Friday, September 30, 2011

Some of the Things I Will Never Forget

Monday was our ultrasound. We are having a........................ HUMAN BABY!!!! Yes!! Score!! Just kidding, we're going to have a baby GIRL!

And she is truly already SOOO much like her big sis. She even lays in the same position already as Vera while I was pregnant with her. We don't have a name picked out yet but we do have a 'Master List', of which we slowly marking off names. She was so energetic under the wand. It was beautiful to watch her move. And the technician even mentioned how she was "rolling around" but not so much making huge kicks. She waved at us a few times and it warmed her mamma's heart. : ) This is the first thing I will never forget.... the feeling of wonder and privilege and blessing I felt while seeing my new baby girl. Peaking into her world and knowing that God has blessed me with one more. I have felt these feelings before and wasn't sure if I'd let myself "go there" again this time.

2) I will never forget the peace I had in the midst of learning my son was dead. I had heard others talk about the peace that passes all understanding but to experience it for myself was life changing. I was still terribly, horribly devastated, but I had peace. I cannot understand or explain it, but I had it.

3) I will never forget the kindness of my nurse, Anne. If you are a nurse, know that YOUR kindness toward a patient may impact their lives forever.

4) I will never forget being moved to the cancer ward after having Asher. The nurses didn't want me to have to stay in Mother/Baby when I had no baby. The first shower I took was in Oncology. When the warm water hit my back it reminded me that the last shower I had was while in labor. Back in this shower I looked down and saw a bit of bright red, post-baby blood run down my leg, across the floor and down into the drain. I sat down on a chair inside the shower and cried again. When we went to order flowers 2 days later I could not even look at, let alone buy the red roses. That color hurt my heart.

5) I will never forget the profound sadness of those around me. The hurt I saw in their eyes. I saw questioning in their eyes. For a moment even the strongest, most mature Christians I know were shocked with God's decision to allow the death of a baby. They too had to face the ugliness of sin and death and ask God again if he was truly good. It helped me to know I was not alone in my doubt.

6) I will never forget my dad holding Asher after his body had gone cold and saying while sobbing, "I just can't get him warm. I just can't get him warm."

7) I will never forget the instant fiery anger of my mother when she first arrived at the hospital.

8) I will never forget waking up to find my mother-in-law holding Asher and singing to him. For one split second I wondered if he was alive and I'd dreamed it all.

9) I will never forget explaining all of this to Vera and the fact that she was mad at us and didn't want to talk about it.

10) I will never forget the message my sister-in-law sent me. And how she cared for me up close when she could and from a distance when she's couldn't be here.

11) I will never forget the day of the funeral. It is eternally burned into my mind. Every single thing about that day. Nolan and I driving to the church. How the funeral home forgot to bring the casket spray. Riding in the funeral home's limo to the gravesite. Wishing I could shoot a paintball at every car that didn't pull over for the funeral procession. How the yucky gray sky opened up for just a few minutes and the sun shown down on Asher's casket. Laughing with good friends at the dinner afterward.

12) I will never forget the night Nolan went back to work. I laid down in bed with one of Vera's baby dolls and stared at the empty bassinet. Empty was and still is some days how I feel.

13) I will never forget this past year. The kindness and compassion of others. The surrealism of it all. The darkness of the nighttime. The swallow-you-whole grief. And the days of intense, almost shocking joy.

14) I will never forget my son. I don't expect anyone else to remember, it's beautiful when they do, but I don't expect it. But I will always remember.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Graceful Fish

I went to bed at 10pm and now it's almost 1am. I laid in bed for two hours having pretend conversations with people in my head (oh like YOU don't do that too), imagining what would happen tomorrow at the ultrasound, and deconstructing today's events. I have never been able to sleep the night before the Big Reveal, I just get too amped up. My brain keeps trying to power down but then I have another thought and WHAMM-O! I'm wide awake again. Our appt. is at 8:25am, and it takes and hour to get to where we are going (more about this ridiculousness later), so that means the alarm will go off at 5:50am. Incase you don't feel like doing the math that is less than 5 hours from now. Oh well.

I told Nolan this evening that I am afraid to get excited to see our new baby. And I actually feel apprehensive about going. I was crying out to God this last Friday and saying over and over "I can't love anymore. I can't." I can't take that chance anymore. This gaping hole is so deep and wide, I can't love anymore.  God just let me cry. I never expected to try and steal my heart against love. I never wanted to, and have always believed in the old adage; It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but right now that doesn't feel 100% true. I know I should pull myself up by my bootstraps, step back and look at the whole picture. I know I should see my circumstances through the lenses of Christ. I know I should.... but it won't come right now.

This baby is moving as I sit here blogging. He/She doesn't move a whole lot..... enough, but not a ton; this baby really only moves at night - or at least that's when I feel it most. Around 11pm or so I start to feel a lot of movement, not enough to keep me awake, but enough to remind me to breath because this baby is alive and okay tonight. It feels like a large goldfish inside my belly. They are not the sharp kicks and punches of a kung-fu fighter, but more the rolling, twisting, quick, yet careful movements of a graceful dancer. I wonder if this says anything about this child or if I'm just letting my mind lead me around by the nose again. Perhaps this child will be deliberate in their thoughts and actions. Perhaps if it is a girl she will have a natural fluidity that I have never possessed. Maybe other's will be drawn to her poise and grace. Or will she be gifted with the powers of silver tongue. Perhaps if it is a boy he will have the natural stalking prowess of his father. Perhaps this is a child who will walk and not run, converse and not shout, day-dream about adventure. I feel that maybe this will be a careful child, a pondering child. But, again, maybe my imagination is simply getting the best of me.

I feel like I can hardly wait to be done with this pregnancy. I just simply want so skip ahead to February. It seems like such a long time away. It will go by fast from here on out though..... October to February are always a whirlwind around here. I still don't want to wait. By waiting I feel as though I'm tempting fate to strike again..... giving death one more chance to pounce. But I will wait. And wait, and wait. And baby #3 will come sooner than it seems.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Disappointment and His Trusty Side-kick, No Hope

When I was small I loved Disney movies. I wanted to be Cinderella. Or Bell. Or Mulan. I wanted to have grand adventures with a handsome prince to save me when I got in over my head. I wanted to be loved so fiercely that nothing would stop my Love from getting to me. I wanted the evil witch to die. I wanted to live happily ever after with said prince in a beautiful castle. And for a very long time I lived in the delusion that life would most certainly turn out this way for me. That if I just dreamed hard enough my life would be a fairy tale.
     I still enjoy Disney movies, but not in the same way as before. Now they are merely empty stories. And this cynicism continues to grow. I don't believe in happily ever after. I just don't. Not in this life on this earth anyway. Disappointment has gotten the best of me. Things are not and have not turned out the way I thought they should or the way I planned. For so long I've tried to hold on to the hope that everything will work out, but it's not. And it won't. I turn the radio off when someone begins telling a story where good things finally showed up. Where a change happened. But I'm worn out with hoping and dreaming and wishing. If I don't hope and dream I cannot be disappointed. If I don't get up I can't be let down.
    It sure seems like a crappy attitude, but it's really a form of self preservation. I can't keep playing a game expecting to win only to loose every time. Eventually you just quit playing. My capacity to keep hoping is so empty, its like trying to fill a bucket from a dry well. It's not simply from loosing Asher...... it's loosing Asher on top of all the other things I don't talk about here because it wouldn't be appropriate.
   And the worst thing about my cynical attitude is that it doesn't allow me to rejoice when other people's dreams do actually come true. Always in the back of my mind is the thought that something will ruin it, something will turn the good into bad. They'll see.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Russian Mafia and a Bottle of Moscato d'Asti

Walking in this place I could tell my husband had put a ton of thought into dinner that night. It was dark, secluded, lit candles on the tables with barely enough ambient lighting to see what you were eating. Nolan, who was wearing a charcoal gray suite walked up to the hostess desk where, to my shock, THEY greeted HIM!
    "Hello Mr. Ritchie. Wine tonight??" I was in such shock I didn't even hear the rest of the conversation, but simply followed my husband to his "usual seat". Vera, our 3 year old daughter, was walking beside me and wanted to know when they were going to turn the lights on. I laughed and told her they didn't have anymore lights to turn on. Our babysitter had canceled on us this evening so we decided to bring her along. She was loving it.
   When we arrived at the table, another surprise awaited us. Our table already had 2 people sitting there. The woman was a short, with thin, square glasses. She wore her red hair in a neat bun at the back of her neck and a simple, long, black dress with short-sleeves. The man at the table was wearing a suite. But in the dark I couldn't tell if it was black or dark gray. His hair was black and gelled into a slick backward swoop - not attractive. He too wore glasses but they were clearly only for reading as he was looking down his nose through them, seemingly engrossed in a russian novel called под землей or Underground (I learned a bit of Russian in college, but nothing enough to speak it fluently)
   He looked up at us as we approached and with worry in his voice said, "Ritchie. Glad you made it. Sit down. Something has come up." 
   Next the woman (who's name I later learned was Jean) turned the computer she was ferociously typing on toward us. It was a video of a tank driving through a city and gunning down whomever happened to be there. Nolan covered my eyes just as a pregnant woman and her small child walked around the corner of a building into direct view of the tank. When he uncovered them again the video had ended and Jean was turning the computer back toward herself. 
   Suddenly Nolan started speaking russian in a low, dangerous voice. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HE SPOKE RUSSIAN! I know he said 'wife' and 'daughter', 'danger', and 'night off'. Next Case (the man) and Jean started to argue back - not in english, thanks. My head was spinning by now, what in the name of all that is sweet and savory was going on?? That's when I spotted it... the bottle of my favorite wine, Moscato d'Asti. I grabbed it up, ripped out the cork and poured myself a generous glass. I downed that, and poured another; which I had the good sense to drink a bit slower. 
  While these strangers were arguing with my husband the server showed up again with a booster seat for Vera and she and I sat down. Thankfully I brought crayons and a notebook and that kept Vera entertained. Eventually Nolan also sat down, but the frown on his face went almost to his knees. I asked him what was going on, and who were these people. I should have drank another glass of wine before hearing what he had to say next. "Darling", he said (I nearly swoon when he calls me that) "I am a member of THE counter intelligence agency - as in CIA. And the people sitting across from me are my bosses. They have decided that tonight we will not be having a nice quiet dinner, but instead taking out the top 12 leaders of the russian mafia. 
   It took a few minutes of silence for me to process this. And yet, when I finally spoke, "Ok, but we have to feed Vera first. Otherwise she'll be cranky the rest of the night.", was what came out. Really?? Mom mode?? Always?? My husband is taking me on the first ever CIA take-out mission date and I'm worried about food?? Well, luckily Jane had already taken care of this. Immediately a server came out with 2 large bags filled with to-go dishes and a giant container of warm garlic bread. 
   In the blink of an eye Case, Jane, and Nolan had all swooped out of their seats, packed away anything that needed to be taken with us and hurried Vera and I out the door (I made sure to tuck away the rest of that bottle of wine) and into a white SUV that happened to be waiting for us. Our driver was a woman about my age with straight black hair. We piled in, (Vera's car seat was already strapped in???) and off we went. Vera and I were all the way in the very back with the food, so I proceeded to open the bags and pass things out. Vera snacked on bread while I passed out the rest. Jane and Case ate hungrily as if they had not consumed a bit of food for days. Nolan crunched through his food while reading the report on tonight's mission. While chewing through my wild mushroom and pumpkin ravioli it occurred to me that we were not IN Russia. Um, were we GOING to Russia? So I asked. As it turned out, the 12 men we were after were in the United States and planning another tank killing spree in the nations capital. But for now, they weren't even in D.C., they were holding a jam session in a bar just 20mins drive from the restaurant. As our driver, Case, Jane, and Nolan kept talking about The Plan, I began to feel sick. Really sick. What if Nolan got killed. What if Vera got killed. What if they killed everyone but Vera and then took her away to live in Russia?? What if, what if, what if......???? But I didn't have long to stew because just then the SUV slowed down and the three operatives jumped out. They were heading for an old style building with a lot of people inside having a meal and apparently singing. We kept driving, but slowly and in circles around the block trying to keep an eye on our agents. I wasn't sure what was happening, but suddenly I knew that something had gone wrong. The mafia had Case and were chasing Nolan and Jean in an antique black Ford. Jean ran toward us and I reached out the window just in time to grab the front of her coat and dress. I pulled her in through the window and yelled, "Where's Nolan??!!". She pointed to a fierce looking woman driving the vintage car. She had ahold of Nolan's collar and was dragging him along the road. 
   Just in front of us the rest of the mob had Case and were beating the daylights out of him. They threw him into the car and I shouted to the driver to run over the mob men. She did so and they tumbled like bowling pins. As we passed the car I jumped out of ours and into the Ford. Then I began to beat the fierce woman with every part of my body I could use. She let go of Nolan to fight me off. When her attention wasn't split she surely had the upper hand and began to bash me about the face. Fortunately Case woke just then and shot her in the head. The blood spattered on me.... at this point I threw my head over the side of the car and hurled. When I'd recovered, I noticed Nolan was holding my hair back. Somehow he'd gotten into the car and was swiftly taking out the remaining mob members who had survived the run down with the SUV; which was about 30 yards in front of us now. Once the mob was dead, we signaled to our vehicle to stop. Case, Nolan and I climbed out of the Ford and into the SUV. I hugged my baby girl and cried while Nolan held me until we got home. He first carried Vera in, she had fallen asleep on the ride, and then came back for me. I told him I could walk, but he just carried me anyway. He laid down in bed next to me and I cried myself to sleep. 

And this is why I never get good sleep. Because in my dreams I'm helping to fight the Russian Mafia because my husband is in the CIA. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nothing Deep to Say Today

Tomorrow I'm going to start an Art Therapy group at BSU. I have to have a meeting with the therapists first so they can make sure I'm right for this group and that I'm not going to hurt anyone once I get there. I'm VERY excited about it. I got the email about a week ago and really felt like it would be a good idea (and if it turns out to be dumb, I don't have to keep going). I was thinking this week that if I had gotten the email any earlier in my grief journey I may not have been receptive to it. I mean..... psh!, I've got my act together of course... I don't need anyone else's help or opinions. I certainly don't need some newbie shrink telling me to draw a picture of my grief or whatever. OK, so maybe I do alright? But don't tell anyone.

Anyway, I had a check-up last week and it went great as usual. My pee was perfect.... my blood pressure was perfect..... my uterus was perfect..... the baby is perfect. So, incase you missed it, I'm practically perfect in every way (name that movie!).  I so wish I could video tape a check-up/baby appointment with my midwife. It is SOOO different from going to the Dr. She wants to know if my body is healthy but she also wants to make sure my mind/emotions and spiritual life are healthy too. Mind, Body, and Spirit. Isn't that what I learned in 7th grade health class?? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I'll have my ultrasound soon.... I'll let you know when I have it and - if I can figure out how - I'll post some pictures too. :)

School has been cracking down hard core this week. Lots of homework and very little time to do it. That's why I'm avoiding it by blogging. ........ Hum, seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm only taking 2 classes (its all I need to apply to the program I'm trying to get into come spring) Comm 210 (speech class) and Chemistry 100.  Basic stuff, but the homework is dreadful. I have 37 assignments due by FRIDAY!!!!!! And 2 papers and a speech. Whoo Hoo! So now I should get off here and go to sleep so my brain will function enough to do my homework tomorrow. So, here's to Art Therapy and knowing that you're perfect.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm gonna level with ya. I'm afraid.

I'm not in a great place right now. Haven't been for about a month. I was just fine until we heard Baby3's beating heart. One would assume (I thought) this would take away much of my anxiety and worry. I was under the impression that hearing that tiny little 'paw-paw-paw-paw-paw' sound on the doppler would help me breath a sigh of relief. But it, unexpectedly did exactly the opposite. I am not sure why, but I think, MAYBE it was because before that, this baby wasn't concrete in my mind and soul and heart. That is one theory. I have others but I can't remember them right now.

For the last month I have had a migraine nearly every day. My midwife and chiropractor have been keeping me in amazing physical health. Both keeping a close eye on my body, and working in collaboration to find the source of this pain. While my neck HAS actually been out of alignment in a bad way, it is a physical symptom of an emotional and spiritual problem. It is outward pain caused by inward pain. Have you ever heard someone who is feeling stressed say, "I feel like everything is just piling on top of my head."? Well, that is how I feel and my body is reacting to those feelings by having physical symptoms of actual weight placed on top of my head. So pain in my neck, head, back, knees, and feet.

I have always known that when a person is under great pressure it takes a physical toll on their body, but I never imagined that a body could act as if it really were under literal pressure. And because Asher's death happened after the official onset of labor, I believe I will continue to feel this fear until a breathing, pink baby is in my arms.

A good friend of mine helped me see a bit of light this week. I was telling her about how afraid I am. And about how I so badly don't want to feel fear because I know that fear is not from God. And then she said this; God knows that you are going to fear. He knew how hard this was going to be for you. What He wants is when you feel those feelings of fear that you take it to him. Over and over again. (This is paraphrased, but as close as I can remember.) It was a lightbulb turning on. God doesn't want me to not feel those feelings that creep up on me, but he does want me to take it to him every single time. And not dwell in a place of anxiety and worry. And that is really where I have been. I have been physically ill and also taking my stress out on Vera and Nolan. This is not O.K.

Rush Limbaugh once said, "You don't need courage for the moment your are struck, but for the long climb back to faith, sanity, and security." I think this is one of the truest statements ever made. Truly this is a man who had experienced great struggle and grief and fear.

I fear 10-20 times a day that this baby inside me has died. I have compulsions to speed over to the E.R.
     and have an emergency ultrasound just to check on things.
I fear that God will take Vera.
I fear that God will take this baby. So I want a doppler to check on this baby every day, many times a
I fear that the economy will collapse and Nolan will loose he job and we won't have money pay rent or  
    buy groceries.
I fear that my stress because of my fear will kill this baby.

Oh how the list does go on; however I will not live and act from a place of fear. I will take it to the cross.