"Grief is a winding, nasty road that has no predictable course, and the best thing you can do as a friend is to show up for the ride. You cannot rush grief."
One year ago today I experienced pain that I never knew existed. The type of pain that only seems real in nightmares. I have never felt like the wind had been knocked out of me until that very night, standing in the NICU holding Nolan while they did chest compressions on him. I never knew how much you could lose in a matter of seconds, because just seconds after putting my hands under his 13 ounce body, they called the code. He was done, his fight was over, he laid there lifeless and not kicking and moving around like we knew him. All I remember is falling into Chris' arms and Valorie wrapping her arms around us. It was a nightmare, surreal and I couldn't even grasp what just happened.
Our hopes, our dreams and our new life was just ripped from us in a mater of seconds with out warning. Just one hour ago, I just finished pumping, I was tucking myself into bed and ready to get some much needed sleep. I knew Nolan was in good hands and never suspected a thing would go wrong. NEVER. Until they called down to my floor and told us to get to the NICU as fast as possible. I remember the tech saying she thought he was coding.
It tore me apart that the first time we held our son, he had no pulse, he was turning blue and was cold. I couldn't keep him warm, I couldn't protect him, I couldn't do what Mother's are suppose to be able to do. What good was I? I was in disbelief that we were in the "quiet room" it's the room they only take people to give bad news or take people when bad things happen. We were there.
Grief then was raw, indescribable, confusing and down right painful. It felt like there was no reason to continue on, how could we? We lost our innocence, we lost our new life and now what do we do? I never again want to go back to those weeks following June 11th, it's painful just to think about it. I'm not really sure how I survived because I don't remember much, I think I was in auto pilot. I went through the 5 stages of grief daily. I had moments of peace and moments of complete anger where I wanted to throw a brick through a glass window.
I counted the weeks since we lost him, that turned into months and now I am sitting here a year later asking where time went.
I tried counseling, I tried therapy but in the end blogging my feelings was my therapy. I did it for me and only me. I hated when people said how 'strong' I was because I didn't feel it. If it was up to me, I would have slept for weeks in a row, I didn't want to get out of bed but I had to. It was survival, it was what I had to do in order to put one foot in front of another and continue life.
So a year later, I am here. Simply here.
I have learned how to cope, how to grieve in my own way and how to survive. I think about Nolan everyday, I look forward to the chances I get to talk about him because it keeps him real.
A year later, I still have a hard time with others pregnancies, looking at new babies and watching new parents. I run from these situations. In all honesty, it has been my biggest battle. Jealousy and envy are ugly beasts, but I can't help but look at those people and ask, why not us? I crave that perfect naive pregnancy and the exciting birth and all that follows it. I would do anything to have a screaming baby keeping me up, I would do anything to make it to 40 weeks no matter how uncomfortable and huge I was, I would do ANYTHING to feel normal again. So a year later, I run. I run far from any pregnancy and I can't help it. Pregnant again or not, it's something I still hide from. I am scared of my own pregnancy let alone, others.
A year later, people expect me to "get over it, time to move on and focus on the 'important' things"
Well people, grief is something that can't be rushed. It is a different journey for every single person. As Angie Smith says, it's unpredictable. Some days are easier than others and a year later the bad days are fewer. But I still have days that I want to crawl in a ball, close my eyes and not wake up. I have those days where I let things people say bother me. I have those days where all I want to do is wallow in my tears. Sometimes the triggers hurt more than I can bear. I think about Nolan EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It could be 3-4 years from now and I can guarantee you, I will not be "over it" Grief is a life long journey. I have learned who my true friends are because of it.
I will NOT get over it, nor will a new pregnancy make me "move on". I am blessed and 100% completely thankful for being pregnant, especially during this time. But the hormones don't help the overwhelming emotion. You don't move from one baby to another to 'fix' things. So if I want to dwell on something at that very moment, let me. Get over yourself, it's not your place to say how I need to deal. Let people grieve the way they want to, as long as they are not hurting themselves, that is all that matters. Just because I am grieving doesn’t mean I am NOT taking care of our new baby.
One year later, I smile more than I cry when I think about Nolan. I think about how we got the chance to meet him, learn his personality and have that hope. I think about the life we were given after a DR said it was never going to happen. I think about how Nolan made us parents and how special that is. I think about all the support we received after we lost Nolan. I think about how many people remind me daily about Nolan. I smile when I talk about him.
A year later, I think I am doing 'good'. I could have fallen off the deep end. Tragedy can rip marriages apart but Nolan brought us closer. I have met amazing friends, life long relationships and I am thankful for these girls.
A year later, I can laugh again. I can remember pieces of how I used to be happy. I look back at pictures of 2008 before everything happened and miss how simple our life seemed. I miss it, I do.. and I wish I still felt THAT way. But I have accepted our new way of life. I can't change it so I try to accept it. It’s just a new normal that takes A LOT of time to grow on you.
A year later, I still wonder what our life would be like if Nolan was still here. I wonder how big he would be, what milestones he would be hitting and simply what our life would be like. I have a hard time looking at babies that would be his age because it makes me crave him a million times more. I may be a 'Mom' but I sometimes don't feel like it because I couldn't tell you how to care for a newborn, when to feed solids or how to do anything baby related. So I struggle with that.
Grief is ugly, unpredictable and it's a tool that truly shows you who true friends are. I have learned that in the past year. It has caused me to hold grudges, lose friends and feel pain I never knew existed. But I have accepted that it a life long journey, it's here to stay. Good days and bad, it's just part of the motions.
So at 2am tonight, I hope I am sleeping. I don't want to feel what I know is in store for me. Because I know how raw and painful it is, I NEVER want to feel that again. But it's hard when your thinking,
"At this time last year...."
The next 24 hours will be hell, and I am NOT ready for it. But I know I will survive and will conquer it with the love of Chris, family and my dear best friends. I plan on reading all of Nolan's cards that we got last year tomorrow. I remember opening them all, but I couldn't tell you one thing that was said because I was not in a frame of mind to comprehend when I read them last.
Tomorrow will be bittersweet. I will be stepping foot through the same doors I was wheeled out of last year empty handed. I couldn't wait to get out of there that very morning after I wrote his last blog. I was done. But tomorrow, I hope to get a healthy glimpse of what is taking residence in my belly. And I hope that I can walk out with a brief smile and some new ultrasound pictures in hand.
God bless everyone who had been here for us in the past year. In the good and bad times, who didn't selfishly walk away from us when we needed you most. Because my new motto is...
You may be there in our good times, but if you can't genuinely be there in the bad, what good are you to me?