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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Embodiment of Spirit

I have some interesting conversations amongst my travels between schools during the week.  Most of them are harmless banter; some of them are seemingly innocent, but totally inappropriate.  During one of those seemingly innocent conversations a few weeks ago, someone suggested to me that perhaps Gracie's spirit returned to us in Jenna's body and that ultimately we might not be missing a child, just a body. Of course, the conversation sparked lots of activity within my mind...

I have struggled with my faith for a long time.  Weird, since there are (well, were) nuns on both sides of my family and my dad's entire family (14 kids) went to Catholic school.  Perhaps it's not so weird when you consider that over the last 25 years, the many of the God fearing Catholics on both sides of my family have not only moved away from the Catholic church, but away from organized religion all together.  Anyway, it's always been a struggle for me.  I believe that a divine being (known commonly as God) does exist, but I don't really know what else I believe about that being.  Consequently, I have mixed feelings, beliefs and fears about what waits for us after death.  I don't know how one can have such mixed feelings and beliefs about something like this, but I do. 

There is, sadly, a part of me that believes that when we die, we die.  That's it.  Nothing else.  No Heaven, no Hell, no spiritual afterlife, no reincarnation.  Just cold, eternal nothingness.

There is a part of me that believes in spiritual reincarnation.  It is not uncommon to hear me say that I want to come back as a well cared for dog or cat in my next life, or that I must have been this or that in my previous life.  Part of me does believe that the spirit of each person, young or old, is the rekindled spirit of something else...but I don't necessarily know if I believe that we are inhabited by the spirit of someone else.  There is absolutely a part of me that wants desperately to believe that perhaps Jenna's body is simply a new vessel for Gracie's spirit since the first vessel failed...but my brain says that there is no connection and that trying to make a connection is completely unfair to Jenna. 

There is a part of me believes that we all either go to Heaven, Hell and/or Purgatory when we die.  I believe this more than I believe anything else.  I really want to believe that Gracie is in Heaven hanging out with my grandmother, Jeff's grandfather, a few other relatives, a few family friends, and all of her angel baby friends.  I want to believe that she really is an angel, because on so many levels this belief brings me more comfort than any other belief or thought.

Perhaps, one day I will figure it all out. Until then, I guess my brain will run...and envy those who have already figured it out.

Why Do I Write?

The support group that we attend is wonderful.  While we certainly have very serious periods of discussion, there is always some lighthearted conversation to counter the really serious stuff.  At our last meeting, there was loose discussion about why some of us still attend and how long we will choose to attend the monthly meetings.  Those of us who are support group junkies pretty much had the same answer; we still attend because it helps us in one way or another.  More or less, we will attend "as long as we feel that it continues to help long as we need to."

Sometimes I ask myself the same question about writing here in this space...why do I still come here to write and how long will I continue to do so?  What can there possibly be to say that I haven't said already?  At some point, many of us who write here in the baby loss blogosphere have asked ourselves these questions.  I have asked them before, and I've blogged about them before.  I have questioned specifically whether I come here and write because I am down or if I am down because I come here and write.  Tonight I looked back through several months of old posts, and that was all I needed to answer that question. I come here when everything inside has built up to an undesirable level, and the end result, I think, brings me up more than it brings me down. 

I write because it's still an outlet.  The further we move from Gracie's death, the more the world around me expects that I am, or soon will be, the old me.  With that expectation comes the people who just just don't want to hear about it anymore...the people who cannot or will not accept that the old me just doesn't exist.  With that expectation comes building frustration...and the need to write and purge.  I come here to purge because the people 'here' get it, and even if they don't get it, I still don't need to worry about being judged or criticized.  Sometimes I come here, not because I am looking for feedback or comments, but because it's better to write here than it is to talk out loud to an empty room.   

I write because my words are sometimes helpful to others.  It pains me to know that there are new women joining this community every day, but there is a small measure of comfort in knowing that some of them make their way into the blogosphere and find comfort in various blogs, including this one.  If I have to be in this position, and let's face it...I don't have a choice in the matter, I am glad that something 'good' can come of it.

Most importantly, I write for the love of my daughter.  A deep-rooted, unending, unconditional love that only a parent can understand. Enough said.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Butterflies Aplenty

Yesterday was one of my normal days to be out of the office to see school kids, after which I stopped at home for lunch.  On the walk from home to the office, I was greeted by lots and lots of butterflies.  Each spring the local elementary school displays artwork in the windows of Main Street businesses, and most of that artwork was distributed yesterday morning.  There is quite a variety of artwork on display right now, but two businesses received only butterfly artwork...mine happened to be one of the two.  I took a few pictures...

 Windows of the pharmacy up the street

My office windows...with some glare added for effect...

Sunday, May 15, 2011


This is a duplicate post...sort of.  I know that I posted it once because several ladies commented on it.  It seems, however, that it fell victim to Blo.gger's issues, and somehow reverted back to a saved draft with some content missing.  So here is my second attempt...

We each have our own way of processing our losses, but as a BLM, we each eventually accept that our hearts automatically causes our brains to form thought attachments.  We simply accept that our brains will, for a very long time, attach thoughts of our dead babies to so many of our daily routines, activities and conversations.  For me, it's just one of the bullet points listed under 'new normal.'

Eventually we begin to care less and less about the fact that expressing those thought attachments might make someone else uncomfortable, and we start to throw them into daily conversation here and there.  We watch people squirm a little bit and sometimes we can actually see them mentally searching for the 'right' words with which to respond.  And then, one day, just when we think there are none left, another bomb drops.  It stops you mid-sentence and mid-step, and might actually cause you to be momentarily lost for words.

That bomb dropped for me today.  Again, it's not necessarily the bomb itself that stings, but having to remind myself that people forget.  Quickly.  I was talking with one of my per-diem employees today, and I said something that included the phrase "...since Gracie died..."  -  "Who?"  - "Gracie."  - "Gracie who?"  "Our Gracie, our baby."  -  "Oh."   Now, this woman was our back-up labor coach for Gracie's birth, and she walks with us on our M.o.D. team, so she's not exactly unfamiliar with I was stupified by this entire conversation (which lasted only 5-10 seconds).  It's just reinforcing proof that it's absolutely not burned into the minds of everyone around us...and certainly not in the front of the minds of those who are still supportive of our journey even years after our losses.

The entire encounter made me think about my grandmother today.  She is 91 and in a skilled nursing facility with substantial Alzheimer's Disease.  She has 3 living children and 1 dead baby.  All I know about my Uncle David is that he died when he was a baby.  I don't know where he fell in the birth order, I don't know if he was stillborn or died after birth, and I don't know why he died.  I do know that I have heard people talk about him only twice in my 34 years and that he was not listed in my grandfather's obituary (as having predeceased his father).  It all makes me wonder about how my Grandmother has really felt all these years.  Was she able to push it from her mind and move on with her life (because that's what was forced upon her) or did she think of my Uncle David often and just keep it to herself?   I wonder if, amongst her Alzheimer's, she thinks of him now.  Oh, how I would love to talk with my grandmother about this, but the Alzheimer's makes this an off limits conversation.  Sadly, I don't know what she would be able to remember, or how accurate it would be, and she also does not know about my little Gracie. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I just got notification about a new comment on this week's Wordless Wednesday post, and another email to tell me that I never said what it was that I see in the picture.  Crap.  I see is an upside down angel in the upper left hand corner of the picture.  If you haven't seen the picture, you can do so here.  

Into the Woods

Thank you to those who have offered prayers and thoughts for my dad's health.  We knew after his surgery last Monday that he was not officially out of the woods until the pathology report came back, and now we know for sure that we are headed back into the woods.  We learned yesterday that of the 13 lymph nodes that they removed for testing, cancer was found in 6.  The surgeon said that all things considered, his cancer is a stage 3 deal.  Not the best news of the week, but not the worst.  It could have been all 13 instead of just 6; his cancer could be stage 4 or metastasized into other organs.  He has an oncology appointment on May 25th, but we already know that chemo is really the only option at this point.  Please keep the prayers and the uplifting thoughts coming in the next few days and weeks.  I could REALLY use them right now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Okay, so it's not completely wordless.  I'm not one to generally see things in the clouds, but the moment I looked at this picture, something struck me.  I'm just curious...does anyone else see what I see?

Monday, May 2, 2011


These days I am thankful that most of the loose lips, stupidity, mindlessness of others doesn’t hurt or sting like it used to.  Now it just makes me sigh, roll my eyes or twitch a little bit.  Occasionally it makes me giggle, simply because whatever has happened is so unbelievable.  I’m not sure if it’s more amusing or more frustrating when it’s family that does the stupid stuff. 

If you’ve read here for any length of time and actually committed to memory the things that I have written here, you may recall that I don’t talk much about my mother…and when I have talked about her, it’s usually to say that the relationship is strained at best, and has been for about 20 years.  When it’s warranted, I do try to make an effort, though.  After much debate, we included her in Gracie’s funeral arrangements, and she made a spectacle of herself during the service.  I saw her only once or twice between Gracie’s funeral and when Jenna was born.  I have seen her just a handful of times since Jenna came home from the hospital, primarily because she sits around and waits for a gold plated invitation to come visit her granddaughter.  We don’t do gold plated invitations.  For anyone.  The rule is that if you want to see Jenna, you call us to see if we’re home and then you come visit.  When she doesn’t get a gold plated invitation, she sits around and sulks and then she starts fishing for an invitation by inundating me with emails.  Rarely will she ever just ask if she can come visit. 

This morning she sent me an email that, at first glance, seems innocent enough.  But in all honesty, it kind of put me off and now I just need to vent a little bit.  First, she asked me to go shopping with her on Friday or Saturday so she can buy me a mother’s ring.  Yes, it’s a nice gesture, but it’s not appropriate yet.  She and I have had this discussion already and she’s been told that I have no interest in a mother’s ring until we are done having kids, and she’s also been told that my husband is actually looking forward to buying that for me.  She followed up the jewelry offer with an invitation to come to dinner at her house on Sunday so ‘we can have fun celebrating (my) first Mother’s Day.’  Yep.  My first Mother’s Day.  Is it appropriate to say ‘Thanks, Ma, but I celebrated my first Mother’s Day last year by having brunch with my husband and then going to the cemetery.’?  If she hadn’t gone down that ‘first’ road, I probably would have agreed to dinner, but I’m just not feeling it now.  I’m just not feeling sitting there through the celebration of my ‘first’ Mother’s Day without saying something, yet I’m just not feeling that conversation with my mother, either.  A detail so small and so HUGE at the same time... 

In other family matters, if those of you who pray have any extra prayer space, I could use a little prayer directed this way.  My dad had surgery today for colon cancer.  The surgery went well, and it appears that everything was contained to the colon and removed without issue, but we won’t know for certain until the pathology reports on the lymph nodes are back.  So, if you can keep us in your thoughts, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sending Love

I am way behind the 8-ball today, but I did want wish everyone a peaceful Baby Loss Mother's Day.  Wishing a peaceful May 8th to all, as well. 

March for Babies

A few weeks ago someone asked me why we walked.  I always thought that the answer was obvious, but I guess I was mistaken.  Her theory was that the March for Babies was done primarily by those who were celebrating the successful growth and health of NICU babies...not by those whose babies never even made it to the NICU.  An interesting perspective, I suppose.  I told her that I walk primarily to honor the memory of my daughter, and to raise money for the M.O.D. with the hope that it will spare other families from experiencing the pain of losing a child.  She seemed to understand a little better after that, but I'm not sure that she understood as much as I wanted her to.  So why do I walk...and why will I continue to walk?  I walk to celebrate the life of my healthy Bean, to honor the many NICU babies who beat the odds and have gone on to lead healthy lives, and to remember my Gracie and all of the other babies who could not stay.  I raise money with the hope that the dollars we donate each year might one day make a difference in the lives of other families...
I guess once you finish the 'year of firsts' you are no longer a rookie and it all just become part of life.  Today (4/30) was our local March for Babies.  It was second year walking, and this year we served as Ambassador Family for our area.  Ultimately, many things fell through this year, and many of the 'public' events that we were told would be arranged for us never came to fruition.  We had hoped to use the promised newspaper interview and radio interview to bring the spotlight over to the stillbirth side of things, at least for a moment, but I guess it was just not meant to be.  After it was all said and done today, we got suckered into being on the local committee for next year's walk, so perhaps we will be able to help with coordination of some of these things.

Initially, my husband wanted to set our team fundraising goal at $10,000.  I knew that there was no way we could raise that amount of money, and we agreed on $5000.  A week ago, it really looked like we wouldn't get much further than $3500 or $4000.  Last night, it looked like we would hang right around $4000.  By the time we started our walk this morning at 10:00, we were at $5015.  By the time we finished the walk about an hour later, more online donations had come in and we were at $5200.  The credit for about half of the last $1000 goes to my BIL, who really turned it up while he was working his midnight patrol shift last night.  I was impressed by his efforts for us.  I think that he sees things through much different eyes since his wife's death in September; suddenly he gets how important the support of family is.  One of our walkers was missing today, as her husband has been quite ill; aside from this, we had a great morning once the sun came out. 

I would like to thank the following fellow BLMs for their contributions to Team Graci.ebelle...  Debbie, Dawn, Maggie, Jess, Lareina, Lori, Marjorie, Holly, Tina, Malory, Andrea, Katy, Jen, Michelle, Mary, and Katie.

Here are some pics from today.

Our Ambassador Family poster

 The back of our shirts

Gracie.belle wings on the back of Jenna's onesie

The front of Jenna's onesie - it says "My big sister lives in Heaven.  Team Grac.iebelle 2011"