Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My world was gone but is part of it coming back?

Grief has been my enemy the past 2 years and I am sure will be part of my life forever. It introduced me to extreme jealousy, bitterness and complete heartbreak. I have personally battled more anger and hate in the past 2 years than I have ever in my life. But at the same time I had to go through these stages and feelings to start to heal. Although, I consider healing as learning to accept the new normal, that new normal that is frequently referred to in the following months after a deep loss. Who I was before I lost Nolan and who I am today are 2 completely different people mentally, emotionally and even physically. Close friends accepted this, or at least understood but I also lost touch with those that my grief overshadowed our relationships. I "weeded" a lot of people out of my life and at the same time planted new ones. So I am here to proclaim my journey and things that I have learned and am still learning.
Grief is a complex emotion, that's an obvious if you have read through this blog. It feels like a 500lb weight on your shoulders 24/7. It starts at the beginning of every day when you wake up and are hit smack in the face of reality that your baby is not in your arms, nor even in the other room sleeping. That nightmare that you thought you woke up from is not just a nightmare, it's your new life. A new normal. That first year I withdrew from a lot of people and I just wanted to be alone in a sense. I wanted to talk to people that understood what I felt and what I was going through.
I thank my lucky stars that a mutual friend brought Amy and I together just weeks after losing Nolan. We were each others shoulders to cry on and we held each others hand through a road that was dark, bumpy and down right scary. We talked for hours every night and we had a special bond that no one else could be. No matter what we had to say for that day, we always responded with "me too"
What I have come to learn in the past 2 years is the grief of losing a baby is different than any other loss. The emotions, the thoughts, the wishes, pleads & tears that are shed all mimic each others. It's a phenomenon in a such that every mother I have met, every blog that I have read and every email that I have received seems to go through similar emotions in stages.
For me, it started with a pit in your stomach feeling of loss. You feel like your living a nightmare that you can't open your eyes and end. There are times you wish you didn't have to wake up and face the reality because sleeping was the only time I didn't feel the sickening pain. I felt like my world was at the end, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, my smiles were fake and my inner demons were attacking me.
All I wanted was Nolan, was that too hard to ask for?
Then it seemed like every trigger was out to get me. My pregnant friends FB status, the pregnant lady at the grocery store, the Huggies sample that arrived in the mail. I couldn't get away from them, they chased me everywhere I went. I was mad at them for hurting me, but in reality it wasn't their faults, they we're just living everyday normal life. Me on the other hand, I was struggling just to take that next breath and step forward.
I went through the sensitive stage of friends and strangers saying the wrong thing. In their minds, it was okay or normal or maybe even came out because they weren't sure what else to say. Whatever the case, many of times I lost relationships due to this. I was angry, upset and down right adamant that I would never forgive. I understand that people had to feel censored around me, who wouldn't. But what was hurtful was people expressing their annoyance to having to feel censored around me. I was going through a deep depression and anything could trigger the overwhelming burden of not having Nolan.
People reached out. People prayed. People went out of their way to help that summer of 2009. They did what any good family member or friend would do at a time of loss. It was months later, even years later that it was being thrown in my face that I did not return the favor or I never thanked people for their efforts. Even went to the point for someone to say I bathe in self pity and I need to get over it and move on. YES, a normal person would think these things. But I was no longer a normal person. I had a new normal. And dammit I think I have made great strides in the past 2 years. 
I have had a tunnel vision of trying to get to the light in our life. As others moved on with their lives, I battled with grief.
So I am here 2 years later to share where I am in this grief journey because I have gotten quite a few emails asking to do so.
2010 was a very exhausting year emotionally. We get pregnant again, hope regains itself back into our lives because we have a chance to be parents here on Earth. My triggers didn't change, I avoided all pregnant people and babies, I still felt overwhelming jealousy towards friends with one year olds, and I avoided every baby thing imaginable afraid it would haunt me down the road if we lost again. Even with all those triggers and high levels of anxiety I still felt joy and hope for what was to come. But that feeling of things finally turning around was quickly ended on July 13th when my little brother died. I now had a whole new journey of grief to add to my existing. That on top of a high risk pregnancy with multiple hospital admissions and anxiety that was absolutely unmeasurable I felt like I was going to break at any moment.
But come December 5th 2010, we were blessed with a crying, healthy and perfect baby boy. The sigh of relief that was taken in the OR that night by Chris, my OB, Ashley my RN & Godmother to CC and myself had to be heard across the county.
CC has been my drug. He did not replace Nolan in any way what so ever. But CC has given me what I so craved and grieved over not having when we lost Nolan. Don't get me wrong, he also reminds me often of what Nolan could have been or makes me wonder what Nolan would have been like.
The past few months I have recognized a change in my journey (oddly enough, while drafting this blog the past 2 days, 2 of my friends posted similar blogs). I smile more than I did before and it's truly genuine. I think of the good when we talk about Nolan and I don't focus on his death as I try to remember his little life instead. I want to pass on to others what has been done for me. None of it went unnoticed and I finally feel a sense of normalcy that I can go back and forgive those that I have been upset with over the past 2 years. It's a burden that will help me continue on this journey. Hopefully, they can understand that I really have no excuse or reason to the ways or things I felt at that time. It was something I had to go through and it's obviously an ugly process. 
Don't get me wrong, I am in no means saying I am healed or that I am "fixed" and over everything because we have CC or time has been the healer. I am simply saying that I have started to feel the acceptance for this grief. Those 5 stages stay true. Some go through it text book, some like me go through it daily and it changes by the hour. But I can honestly stand  here and say.. the acceptance has started.
I live for my babies. 
Nolan was the reason I woke up and put one foot in front of the other every morning. Chris and I chose to live for Nolan, do the things he never will be able to and live in his memory. It's what got me through the past 2 years. My bad days are less, the tears come and go as expected but the healing has begun (although I'll never be fully healed) but there is not one day that goes by that I don't think of Nolan. 
I gave him life and he gave me a gift of seeing the world as a blessing.


Kimberly said...

I love you Ashley :) And while I hope that I never have to walk in your shoes (or that anyone has to), I will never forget you or Nolan. People need to understand that while a few expressions of gratitude may have been forgotten, with what you were going through it should have been understood that that should have been the least of your concerns.

CaSondra Shim said...


m&msmommy said...

This is a beautifully put post! Although I don't know your heartache, not even remotely, my sister lost her triplet sons at 24 weeks and I saw the immense grief and loss she experienced and still experiences three years later. I pray that your heart continues to find hope/healing as this part of your grief process begins.

Angie said...

Very well put.

urban chaos said...

Profound post mama!

Life is a journey and your dark moment of loss is an integral chapter that shaped your character- it cannot be undone, nor should it.

I have noticed this subtle but profound change in you very recently. FWIW- I am proud of your courage and strength in writing this out, just as I am proud of you. <3 you

Lisa said...

You know I stand behind you... whether it's cheering you on or crying along with you. I consciously wear my Nolan shirt to bed every month on his day. I'm so proud of how far you've come!!

cmatsukes said...

Well put I understand I have been grieving for the last 4 years Mike, my parents I know about how other people think unless it has happened to them they have no idea how grieve can bring you down I am just starting to feel better it seems like a long road and if those people dont understand too bad for them I can waste my time on them. You are doing great coming through this both of you.

Raquel said...

Hi- Found your blog yesterday and as I read this post today I can say that you described grief in such a great way as well as the anxiety of a high risk pregnancy after HELLP.

Hugs to you!

kristen said...

Beautiful post Ashley. Grief is a very complicated thing.

Alise said...

Ashley, I just wanted to say that I've been reading, and am so happy that you feel free to share these thoughts. You are such a strong woman, and you can keep working through this!


Andrea said...

Big tears...and lots of love coming your way. I never held the baby we lost, but my heart still longs for what he would have been. Thankfully, we welcomed our rainbow the end of April and seeing his sweet face helps to lessen the hurt, but as you say, in no way can one child replace another.

So happy you are finding your way Ashley. You serve as an inspiration for so many who are traveling this path and sadly for many who will find themselves on this same journey. If only it didn't have to be this way.

Much love and thank you for pouring your heart into this beautiful and touching post.

Captain Inappropriate said...

I've been reading your blog since Summer 2009, but this is my first comment. This was wonderfully written. I know you love your career in the medical profession - but if you ever wanted a change you could totally write articles for a book or magazine or be a grief counselor. I love the honesty in your writing - it is refreshing. Wishing you the best in your continued journey....

-Fellow FSU Seminole, Jessica

Holly said...

This is a great post and I totally relate to it. Thanks!