Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas Weekend

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our Christmas celebrations this past weekend.  Thanks to my niece Francesca for sharing the wonderful pictures she took during our Christmas Eve family gathering!  As usual, she captured a lot of priceless moments...

one of the very few where Noah's looking at the camera...whew!

happy to have my Mom with us this year...too bad Dad's in CA still

Mommy & Me



It's a good thing I thought of putting nail polish that night!  haha!


Noah with cousin E.

my most FAVORITE of all!!!  What a great moment to capture  :-)))

our Christmas Breakfast...Baked French toast has become part of our tradition and it's Noah's favorite!
We also had ham with Mom's homemade glaze and I made hot chocolate...yummmm....

Noah opening his presents...the MAIN one from Mommy and Daddy this year...his very own Bat Cave!




I hope you all had a wonderful celebration with your loved ones and that it was filled with love and memories to treasure!

P.S.
God and I have made up.  It was kind of hard to stay mad over Christmas anyway....










Thursday, December 23, 2010

Prayer From the Abyss

I had an interesting dream last night.  In my dream I was a doctor and with a group of other doctors, we were advising a couple regarding their troubled pregnancy. They were close to their due date, it seems, and for some reason, they were trying to decide if they should already give birth, though they haven't reached full term yet, or if they should wait it out until they reach full term.  It appeared as if the fetus had some problems or they were anticipating certain abnormalities once the baby was born.  Amidst all the confusion, I remember standing in the middle of the room and with such strong emotions and tears in my eyes I spoke...

'You need to think of it this way...If you decide to give birth now, and find that there was something wrong with your baby, would you not wonder if you could've avoided it by opting to go full term?  That way, even if there was something wrong with your child at birth, you will know in your hearts that you did all that you can, all that was possible and that there was nothing else you could have done to make the situation better.'

I typed that last part in bold letters because in the dream, I said those words in an extremely impassioned way and I woke up feeling as if my chest was about to erupt.  I opened my eyes knowing that the situation in my dream and my personal situation with my recent pregnancy are very different, although somehow there was something about what I said that reverberated with such truth, such insight.  

Forgiveness.  This is the one word that keeps popping in my head.  Have I been quietly and unknowingly simmering in guilt all this time?  Have I been unconsciously blaming myself even though I know, intellectually, that it was not my fault that my child died, or that I'm reproductively challenged?...that there was nothing else I could have done differently?  


Perhaps.


And perhaps it is no accident that I had this dream, this jolt, two days before Christmas day.  There is no denying that this year's Christmas will perhaps be the worst for me so far, the most difficult to plow through.  Amidst all the smiles, laughter, the fellowship, the rejoicing, deep down I know I will feel a significant degree of emptiness and yes, even more guilt.  Not just for losing my baby, but guilt over those moments when I feel 'okay', those fleeting moments when I forget my grief and allow myself to go back to the old 'normal'.  


Perhaps the dream is reminding me that in the sea of gifts I find myself in during this time of year, the best gift I can give myself is the gift of forgiveness.  I need to genuinely accept that to forgive is not to forget and erase the memory of what has happened, but to move forward and release myself from the bonds of self-blame and bitterness.  I also need to forgive God and though that sounds blasphemous, it is true for me.  I've been VERY distant from Him and full of resentment and to feel like this is exhausting.  I still don't have a clue as to how to completely move past all this emotional and mental burden but I will tell you this...


I will be attending Christmas Eve mass with one single prayer...that I find hope.  Not because I want to be able to once again expect that my wishes be granted, but to simply have the capacity to believe in better days.  I want to find hope because I need to believe that God has not abandoned me, that life knows what it's doing, where it's taking me, that things make sense, and that I can still be capable of seeing an illuminated world instead of one full of darkness and skepticism.  I need to hope and truly believe that the sense of unending void that has engulfed me is not as powerful as it seems and that it WILL end, eventually.


To the God I am still angry with, to the God I still feel so distant from, I ask that you make known to me your compassion.  I ask that you be there tomorrow and speak to me in a voice I will not be able to deny.  Let me find what I seek.  Let hope find me.




*Image courtesy of http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,27585&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=picture+of+black+hole&cp=20&qe=cGljdHVyZSBvZiBibGFjayBob2w&qesig=qFYp2vQl-v69qMaNOZPrSg&pkc=AFgZ2tlBj4-yeOiVVMOjdQw4bovAkiJniKZK-vPbm6FGEYJbGrZJWYaa6rEqKeBuJ7y9qiHQEeiOZabaT-C185dQzela-nCvuA&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=7isUTYvWIcbbngfWp-nqDQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCQQsAQwAA&biw=1280&bih=711

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is NOT a Paid Advertisement

I understand that my recent entries have all been 'dark', so while I'm still trying to push myself back to 'normality' (whether the old one or a new and redefined 'normal'), I would like to just take this opportunity to promote a new and wonderful blog site authored by a friend of mine, Kat N.

Her site is called Soccer Mom 4.0 since Kat has four wonderful boys...well, 5 if you count her husband.  Though the site is pretty new, I can honestly say that her entries are a joy to read so go ahead and check it out!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kpyHmWo1bks/TQ-FGjTHxnI/AAAAAAAAER4/119nWGb00dI/s320/KEVIN%2527S%2BGRADUATION%2BPARTY%2BMAY%2B26%252C%2B2010%2B336.jpg


Kat, I'm really happy you decided to put this in place.  You are a gift to the blogging world!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Soul's Winter


I wish there was a better way of saying this, but, my life feels constipated.  

This is what happens when someone like me gets derailed.  You see, I thrive in planning, getting things organized, being able to anticipate every single scenario imaginable and doing everything I can to be prepared for them.  Some people may think that's stressful but the idea of being unprepared and going through my days not knowing what to expect stresses me out more.  That's just who I am.  So...I plan.  I imagine.  I anticipate.  I organize what I can.

But what happens when what you've planned for, imagined and anticipated gets taken away? What happens is ME in its current state...quite lost, suspended, dark, life constipated.  

I was on a track, excitedly anticipating an addition to our family, nesting quite early.  I had plans for our house, rooms to organize, redecorate, renovate.  I had a wardrobe lined up for a belly expected to grow huge.  I had bags of old yet slightly used baby clothes and toys lined up to be transported from the basement shelving to the second floor room.  I was imagining how to place two car seats in our family vehicle, how to do errands with two children in tow, how to go on vacations, where and if it would even be possible in the next three years.  Would our family earnings be enough?  How will I revise our budget?  Maybe I should rethink the placement of our playroom?  Should I get new toys?  What will the new sleeping arrangement be?  

The list went on...

And now it's gone...

Redefining one's life is never easy.  I've done it at least thrice before.  I've had a broken engagement and had my heart broken.  I've had to unexpectedly migrate, be married and have had to give up everything familiar to me.  I became a mother for the first time.  In all these major changes, things very dear to me had to be given up somehow and though there were immeasurable gains, those only came after perspective was applied. My trouble now seems to be that I can't grasp that much needed perspective.  I was reading one of Oprah Winfrey's 'What I Know For Sure' entries and she said that gratitude is necessary for gaining perspective.  Only then, she said, can you begin to feel empowered again, instead of getting weighed down by your pains and woes (not exactly her words, of course).  


I get it.  Believe me, I really, really do.  However, my sense of gratitude these days seems to be overshadowed by this cloud of bitterness and resentment.  The questions in my head linger and though I know these are pointless for I may never arrive at the answers, this fact only further catapults me into a state of meaninglessness.  Neither does it help that God/the Divine and I have reached an impasse.  I've let Him know of my anger and resentment towards Him, but at the same time, I know He's still there looking, watching, hopefully not mocking me.  (Again, this is me talking from a place of darkness so don't pay too much attention).  


Yes, I am thankful for the things I love, for having my loved ones in my life.  I am grateful that they are STILL in my life and that sanity and the sheer will to live would not even be possible if they too were to be taken away.  I know that and that's what keeps me going. However, I am quite convinced that something needs to replace that which was taken away from me in order for me to successfully get myself back on track, or at least, get myself going on a new and equally pleasant track.  That's just logical, isn't it?  You get derailed, the previous road no longer seems plausible, therefore the only way to keep going on your journey is to find an alternate route, hopefully a pleasant one to say the least. I am left with a seemingly unfillable void and I do not want to have to burden anyone else in my world, especially Noah, with the responsibility to fill that in for me.  That would be terribly unfair.  As I've learnt in the past, you cannot expect another person to give you something you cannot give yourself and make that as the premise of your relationship.    


I have work to do...for myself.  The trouble is, knowing is undeniably a universe away from doing.  What's worse is that I find that knowing is hardly an efficient impetus for motion. Belief is what I need.  I need to believe that this pain and void will either make sense eventually or that it won't matter to me whether I come to understand this or not.  I need to believe that everything will re-align once more in my life; that I will eventually stop hating myself; that I will tire of the anger and bitterness and be able to move on to genuine contentment and peace.  I need to believe that the darkness I'm in now is not meaningless, that life's events are not random and that something rich and worthwhile will come to fruition after the clouds move away.  Though I've somehow rejected the idea of hope, seeing it as merely a pathway to disappointment and suffering, the irony now is that it seems to also be that which my spirit needs.


The questions now are, what will make me believe, where does hope lie ???  


(to be continued)...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Please Hear Me With Love


Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  I can only wish the same miracle that made the Virgin Mary pregnant could make me healthily pregnant once again, like I was just three weeks ago.  Sadly though, I've sort of heeded Lenny Kravitz when he sang 'It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over' and decided it's all over.  I decided to have my D&C (dilation and curettage) yesterday, December 7, 2010 and have some closure...somehow.

I wanted it because up until yesterday prior to the procedure, I still hadn't bled.  I had them perform another ultrasound on Monday, December 6, just for my peace of mind and again, I saw my baby in my womb, devoid of any heartbeat.  I no longer wanted to wait for my body to naturally expel my child and thought that ultimately, a D&C would be the best route so I went through it.  I did not break down or anything like that despite the fact that every single nurse I spoke to had to say sorry to me and tried to console me in their own caring ways.  I thought I was going to break down when, as I was being wheeled out of the hospital, I had to be taken through the hallway where the hospital's 'wall of baby footprints' was hanging, displaying the countless babies they've delivered.  This time around, as I left this hospital, there was no beautiful infant in my arms.  The only things I was bringing home with me were my hospital band and the physical pain from the procedure.  Empty arms.  Empty womb.

Things still don't make much sense to me.  I don't think they ever will or at least not anytime soon.  And while I really am appreciative of people's expression of their sympathy and completely understand that they are well-meaning, there are things that seem to make the pain and confusion even worse.  Again, I know that some are only doing their best to console me, comfort me, and I recognize that and am grateful.  However, please don't wonder if I don't respond politely or appropriately to some of the more common things we tend to say to people who are grieving.  


For instance, I do know that my missed abortion/miscarriage is 'nature's way' of taking care of something that would not have survived in the long run.  But that does not take away my pain and sense of inadequacy as a mother in failing to sustain my child, a child who was supposed to live a long, healthy and happy life, longer than mine.  It doesn't keep me from hating my own body for being 'defective', 'abnormal', 'incapable'.  


Then I've been told it's 'God's plan'.  This only makes me picture a God who is capable of such cruelty as to bring me this much pain and anger.  Why did this God make my IVF procedure successful?  Why did this God give me a positive pregnancy and even allowed me to hope, only to take everything away?  Did He change His mind?  Did He think it was entertaining?  Why did He not just make the whole procedure fail since the beginning?  It would have saved us all much trouble, much pain if He truly 'planned this out' pretty well.  Did I do anything disappointing to Him that he suddenly decided to punish me and my unborn child?  


So you see, I'm in a very tight predicament here.  Taking the 'nature's way' route makes everything seem so random and meaningless to me.  While taking the 'God's plan' route makes me think of a cruel God who knows what He's doing and yet still decided to thrust me into the depths of suffering without any explanation, no revelation whatsoever.  Where should I stand?  You tell me.


I've also heard 'It's all for the best'.  Really???  If you were in my place, grieving, feeling like someone bore a hole in your chest and crushed your heart mercilessly, would you be able to have this perspective and make sense of it?  If your own child died, would you readily accept that it was 'for the best'?  Please don't think that these words bring me comfort because in grief, one can only have the short-sightedness brought about by the unending flooding of tears.  


Though there is some consolation in telling me that I now 'have an angel in Heaven watching over me', the truth remains that I was not praying for an angel.  What I wanted so desperately was a child to hold, love, nurture until my dying days and beyond.  In this circumstance, it won't make sense either to tell me that I was given something I had hoped for, instead of something I had wanted and asked for.  This is not the time to make me imagine a God who thinks for me, never listens and misinterprets humans' desires.

When I was first informed of my baby's death, yes, my initial reaction and rationalization was, 'It's okay, at least I already have one'.  But now that the reality of it has truly sunk, the truth of the matter is that having Noah does not make the pain of losing my second child any less.  They are two separate people and I want them both.  I would not have gone through all that I've gone through had I felt that this pregnancy was only a whim or something unnecessary.  I was planning for TWO and no matter how we look at it, we ended up with less, the objective was not met, a dream left unrealized.  That is the only point.  That is the reality.  That is my grief.  


Truly, saying 'I'm sorry', 'I'll be praying for you and your baby', 'I'm here when you need me' are more than enough.  Anyone who has lost a loved one and grieved knows how powerful those words are.  I'm also TRULY appreciative of women (and men) who have shared their own stories with me;  hopeful parents who have gone through a similar experience and though they did not owe it to me to share their lingering pain, they chose to in order to somehow affirm to me that indeed, I am not alone.  That helps tremendously.  Thank You.


Pardon me though if I behave oddly towards certain things common people deem ordinary. These days, I find myself turning away from parents holding two or more children.  Pardon me too if I seem to stare with much envy at your older toddler playing with your younger baby at the grocery store, library, mall, restaurant, doctor's office, church or wherever.  The pangs of desire are still to raw for me to control at times.  Please try to understand if in the months to come, I'm not able to look at baby clothes, toys, diapers or baby furniture.  Most of all, I apologize in advance if I seem less than eager to celebrate with you as your new baby arrives.  Trust that I am happy for you and wishing you the best with all my heart (or what's left of it).  But if I seem lukewarm in my reactions and wishes, just excuse my behaviour and know that I'm still in the process of healing myself.

It will take a while and probably longer than I expected.  Some of you might say 'But it wasn't even a real baby yet, so why do you grieve so much?'  It's because it was real.  It was alive.  It was our flesh and blood.  I had seen his/her cells divide, his/heart beating.  I'm also grieving not only for a very young life taken so prematurely, but also for the loss of a future I've so lovingly imagined.  I've seen my baby walking around the house.  I've heard his/her voice, saw his/her round, bald head, touched his/her toes in my mind.  I've seen him/her walking hand in hand with my Noah, seen them playing together, thinking how much this one looks more like me and how beautiful my children are.  I've thought about summer birthday parties and thought we should start improving the appearance of our backyard so I can host my kiddie parties there in July.  I've thought of how much Noah would enjoy his sibling's parties, running around in the summer heat, enjoying perhaps a circus theme or splashing water in various inflatable pools in our backyard.  


There will be no need for any nesting now, even though I've already made space for this child in Noah's existing dresser.  I've imagined which bunk bed to get for my two children in the years to come.  I've thought about where to position the crib this time around and how to rearrange the house.  And now this imagined, deeply-hoped-for world has died.  


I cannot even bear to look at myself in the mirror these days and cannot bear to see and touch my belly.  I had gotten so used to rubbing it lovingly and even talking to it occasionally but now what?...There is nothing in there, no life, no anticipating its growth and full roundedness, no caring for it, no adoring it....nothing.  

So you see, so much has been taken away from me.  It's not just a clump of tissue I never spoke to or even held.  It's an entire life I had so clearly envisioned, hoped and prayed for, a loving dream I was made to taste only to be woken up and thrust into a never-ending nightmare.

Now I'll always just wonder about that second one, my lost child.  Anyone who's gone through it understands....understands that the pain lingers on and on, though the passing years may dull it eventually.  Anyone who's gone through it knows that it's nothing you just 'snap out of' or 'get over'.  Anyone who's gone through it knows that you never ever forget.






*Image courtesy of  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.b4pregnancy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Losing-a-pregnancy.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.b4pregnancy.org/recurrent-miscarriage-a-form-of-infertility&usg=__sCS2FPgVFwbZjQey-b2WmWnFbCo=&h=451&w=369&sz=23&hl=en&start=289&zoom=1&tbnid=VECvNAXtc_OMaM:&tbnh=132&tbnw=119&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dimages%2Bof%2Bmiscarriage%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D711%26tbs%3Disch:11,5958&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=633&vpy=224&dur=34&hovh=248&hovw=203&tx=99&ty=103&ei=jqz_TMO-F6DtnQfem83kCQ&oei=eKz_TNvvLtT_nAeexJinBw&esq=11&page=11&ndsp=28&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:289&biw=1280&bih=711

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yet Another Day My World Stood Still


It's never good when you go for your ultrasound and the sonographer's face suddenly morphs into uncertainty.  I lay there, feeling anxious myself, and yet still hanging on to every thread of hope.  She said she's having a hard time seeing the baby's heartbeat.  She said she needs an extra pair of eyes.  At that point, I knew.  I was actually dreading today's appointment and just had a strange premonition that there was something wrong.  There has been nothing physically abnormal with this pregnancy that would have given me any warning but it was an inexplicable feeling these past days.  Something just did not feel right and though the baby is barely an inch long and therefore movements can't really be felt yet, I just 'felt' as if he/she was not there anymore...like there was nothing 'alive' in my womb.  That's the closest I can get to describe how I've felt in the past days, which is why I was actually dreading today's ultrasound appointment.  Suffice it to say that I was exceptionally nervous today.  And now I know why.

After a minute or two, the nurse/midwife came in and I watched their faces as they looked at the screen.  I was screaming inside, 'Tell me!!!' but could not seem to find the strength.  After a few more minutes, the nurse finally confirmed it, while touching my knee gently.  God knows what exactly they said.  I'm sure they said 'Sorry Joy' or something to that effect.  All I remember is that I broke down.  I was not hysterical but I felt my insides break into pieces, my chest ready to explode.  Both of the women hugged me and consoled me, after explaining that my baby seemed to have stopped growing at 7weeks.  They also did not detect any heartbeat and showed me the screen to point out that nothing was moving / beating.  

I thought I was prepared for the worst but no one ever is.  I thought it would not hurt as much since I already have one child, but when a dream dies, you die.  Emily or David is no more.  This is it.  Noah will probably not have a sibling anymore.  You can tell me to hope and not give up, but logically speaking, we all know my chances are pretty bleak.  I don't even want to have false hopes anymore.  Let's just be realistic.  And besides, I can't even begin to imagine the possibility of trying to conceive again and face the possibility of another heartbreak.

As with any heartbreak, healing will come.  I am certain of it.  I just don't know when.  And as with any failure, we ought to ask ourselves what we take from the experience in order to move on.  So I'm asking...

Do I call life a treacherous bastard, or a mysterious gift never meant to be fully understood but only accepted, embraced?

Do I give up on hope and deem it useless as it does nothing but pull the rug out from under me, or is hope the ultimate teacher of humility, making me realize that we are all free to experience it while knowing there are no guarantees?

Is it just about my unbearable loss and sense of grief, or also the wonderful presence of a loving husband and son urging me to walk on and rekindle my sense of joy?

Do I accept defeat in this test of faith, or is proof of the Divine's compassionate hands in the countless messages of concern I have received from family and friends all over the world, enveloping me in a cocoon of silent, yet assuring love? 

The pain is still too fresh and though I know which way to go, I also have to be kind to myself and give ample time for the mind, heart and spirit to all connect.  I am fully aware I have no monopoly of this pain, especially this specific kind of pain, and that I am in the company of countless brave women who have treaded this path before me.  Really all I ask for are prayers, time and your patience.  Allow me to vent should anger arise and the pain becomes too unbearable to contain.  Allow me silence and solitude as well, for this is my spirit's way of replenishing its strength.  Most of all, please allow me whatever transformation this experience will bring (or may have already brought on).  I lost my child, my flesh, blood, hope and love.  Change is inevitable.                





















Thursday, December 2, 2010

P.S.

This is just a quick update regarding 'the pointer' story ('Early Training').


I finally approached one of the teachers today and casually asked.  I told her that I always hear about 'the calendar' from my son but didn't really understand how it works since he's told me that he hasn't had his turn yet.  The teacher then informed me that they have the children's names written on cards, not necessarily arranged alphabetically by the way, and they go through the cards when they do the calendar and weather.  As your name gets called for that day, your card will then be placed towards the back of the pile and it goes on and on until everyone has been called.  She said that they did tell the students to wait and that everyone will definitely get their turn.

I reiterated this to Noah and made sure he understood that his turn will come.  Like I said in the previous entry though, this is the part that's easy to fix.  Let's just hope that in time, my son will genuinely feel better and perceive 'better realities', so to speak...