Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It became my reality

What makes it real?

Time? Pain?

Is it waking that first morning and screaming as loud as you can because it wasn't a nightmare at all? That scream lives inside of me forever. Being a dream was all I had left to hold onto when sleep finally won the battle... but I woke and it wasn't over. Pain and emptiness were there instead of my tiny, beautiful child. He was there the morning before, I remember. The first time I woke without him was impossible but not yet real, I was frozen this day, the second worst day of my life. I started sleeping in the crib that night. Imagine how that looked, but I still remember how it felt. Safe and warm as if I were as close to him as I could be. In complete honesty, 2 and half years later, I would opt to never have slept anywhere else since. I remember the smell and the cramped coziness of his tiny bed. I had put him down there to rest while I got ready, so why not sleep there? Sometimes he would roll over in the morning and look at me through the crib and if he saw me he would start a protest to be 'freed'. I brought him home from the hospital and gave him a tiny tour of that crib, 'and here is your sheets, and your music player, and Mommy sleeps right here beside you'.

Is it the funeral or the memorial? Touching him and kissing his tiny nose for the last time as they closed his casket, does that mean he's really gone? He was wearing a soft little sleeper with a firetruck on it, it said "little hero" with a puppy. I put a little gold St. Christopher medal around his neck, though I realize he needed no more protection, not from me anyway. Then I pinned a tiny silver Miraculous medal to his sleeper. I bought two, one blue on silver, one pink. They were made for little children to wear on Easter Sunday or for their first communion, my son wore it to his funeral, does that make his death real? Does the consuming pain of the words 'in the ground' ever stop? Who thought to bury the people we love in the ground anyway? My little boy's Father would just say over and over how cold the ground was in October and November, he thought he could do something to keep David warm. I knew he was not there in the ground but still, not real enough then to elaborate on the thought.

It didn't become real to me until I celebrated my son's 1st birthday without him. There were balloons and psalms and presents... the balloons were let off into the sky, the psalms all choked out through tears, and the presents all left tied to a light over my son's headstone or placed carefully on top of rose petals that covered the words "David 'Beloved' Ford Dates". A ton of my friends and family came, but instead of holding my big boy in celebration, we held each other in his absence. He had no cake. No cards. He had no special outfit for his '1' pictures. Had this really happened to me? Is it possible that one year prior I had given birth to a child that I no longer had in my hands? My quiet secret pain was real. I hid it from myself and from those around me, I shuffled along in my day, I went through the motions all leading up to that day, 6 months of motions. Then April 24th, 2006 came and I had only memories, both happy and painful but not tangible.

It became so real, too real. Every birthday is more real for me. Do I buy toys for a 6 month old, or a 3 year old? Should I read verses of loss or faith? Should I light candles for a 3 year old in heaven or a 6 month old no longer here? Do I tell my children that we are celebrating 6 months of life, or 3 years since birth? We buy cakes now, My Hubby bought David a cake last year and we let C blow the candles out. 2 of them. I have to wonder if the cake was for David... or me? Who cares, it had his name on it... something I never would have seen if he didn't do anything at all. A mother deserves to see her childs name on a birthday cake. I can't imagine I made a wish though, it would have been for something impossible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

David's Story

I don't know where to begin such a sweet yet painful story. I suppose I should start with what a blessing he was to me. I was so excited about having another little guy that I had planned and planned for almost year and when we decided to try again, I had everything basically down to an art. We conceived in the first month. It was right about then that my marriage seemed to unravel before my eyes. It was okay though, I had my Big boy and another would be along soon. Who could be ungrateful right? Within 3 months, time proved that I was to be divorced with 2 little boys to raise on my own. I thanked God everyday for my pregnancy because it truly kept me grounded, my little Angel carried me through.

He was born, beautiful, on April 24th, 2005. He was 8 pounds and 10 ounces, quiet and calm just like his brother's birth. He was born just after midnight at 12:27am. I named him David Ford, after my Uncle David that had passed years earlier. He was handsome and tiny, and a miracle. I couldn't imagine how I had lived a day of my life without him. We went home after 2 days from the hospital to the 3 bedroom apartment I was renting with my sister. He and I shared a room of course, he was only about a foot from my bed though he rarely slept in his crib after midnight.

I was on maternity leave for 6 weeks, which I now recognize as the only time in his short life that I got to spend with him without any pressure to be constantly moving through the day. It went by fast, he nursed what seemed like a hundred times a night, he was a quiet boy but was a lot of work when the sun went down. I guess it was God's way of giving me little extra bits of time with him. It was brief, our time together at home. It feels unfair.

I returned to work the day after my 24th birthday. June 8th. Barely 6 weeks. I had found a sitter through my mom, a nice older lady and her daughter-in-law. They watched another little girl and they were able to watch the boys for very little. I didn't have any money to my name from not having worked for 6 weeks, I borrowed it from my mom. The next 4 and half months of my life are a blur, I worked and commuted, that was my life. My ex-husband picked the boys up each day and brought them over to my house, sometimes I would get home after David had gone to bed but most days I got home just early enough for him to start fussing and be put down for the night. The guilt consumes me, it's the one part of grief that never stops suffocating you. I'd give my life for my kids but I didn't even have 10 minutes to spend with them after work. Dinner, baths, pajamas...

Time passed, I got used to the horrible routine. Up every morning, get C ready, get David ready, get ready, drive to the sitter- 2 hours of traffic, work, 2 hours home, boys to bed, sleep...

October 26th, 2005... wake up, feed David, put him back down, get dressed, get C up and ready, get David ready... Their Dad came to pick them up that day for some reason, I think it was the first time in David's entire life, God letting his Dad see him once more I think, off to work I went. It was an awful day, I was sad all day, people told me later that I must have known it was going to happen because I was depressed all day long. I was leaving work an hour early to meet my Father and go to some seminar about 'getting more out of life'... amazing... but my phone rang at dinner and my son had stopped breathing.

I stopped breathing too. He was at the sitter sleeping, napping with his brother in the room. The sitter went in to check on him and she said he looked pale, so she picked him up and he was 'limber' so she called 911. Ambulances came, they were 'trying', I was frozen with fear and paralyzed by hope, hope that it would be not be what it was. I prayed and I prayed and I begged and reasoned, pleaded, I even bargained but on the other end of that call the response to "what's happening" from my Son's Father was, "Janice, he's gone, he's gone" I just screamed as loud as I could, "No, No, No". The screams were so piercing that I felt like they weren't coming from my own mouth. It couldn't be, this isn't the way things happen... I'm only a child myself, I can't possibly be losing, have lost, my son.

It took and hour and half to get through traffic to C and my family. My Dad drove what felt like 3 miles per hour the whole way there. They stuck us in this tiny box of a room to wait for the medical examiner to let me see him again. It was so unreal. He was gone, and when I held him for the last time in that hospital bed I knew I was saying goodbye for a lifetime.

This is the day the color drained from my life, the day time started over from 24 years into life to 'X' number of years until I see him again. Most people in my life know the story form being there or hearing it, but I have never told this story because of how much it hurts to know it is real and that it is not a story at all, it is my life. This is how I lost my son. I was not there with him, I did not get to whisper in his ear while they tried to bring him back, I didn't even get to hold my son's body while he was still warm. I said goodbye to my son at 7am that day, I would never see him in my time on earth again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

perhaps it's me

I sort of feel the last couple of weeks as though David's loss is a story someone told me, instead of a reality that I live each day. I don't know if it is his birthday coming up or some other mix of emotions that is holding onto me. I've felt this way in the past, about a year ago but decided it was only a defense against the pain. This time it isn't letting up, the tears aren't coming. It doesn't feel real, nor does it feel like it will become real. I want to cry and be sad, I want to let some of it out and remember how much I miss his tiny life. When I think of him the last couple of weeks I just immediatley think of the happiest times I had with him then change my thoughts to the other happenings in my life. I think I am avoiding the part where he isnt here any more. What's my problem?

I believe I'm passed feeling 'robbed', I can honestly say that horrible feeling hasn't knocked on my door in quite a while. I don't really accept it but I am coming to understand in my faith that he had a bigger purpose and that he was never really meant to stay and grow with me. I keep reading these other blogs and this information for grieving parents and I get so mad when people say that it's okay that I turned my back on God and questioned him when David died... I never turned my back on God, if anything I turned to him when David died. Mourning the death of your child is so personal, for everyone I think. I truly allow the people in my life to grieve and mourn in any way they can even if it means drinking themselves to sleep for a year or putting it away and pretending it never happened. I am not those people, I do not know what a day in their life is like, therefore I dare not judge or interpret any ones 'journey'. But when I read these generalizations of grieving parents I feel like it sets a guideline for others to grieve by. I spent so much time after David died trying to go through these stupid steps set forth by some idiot who, I later found out, never lost a child. Is that fair to the rest of us?

I played with the idea of attending the MIS meetings and the infant loss cermonys but they were too much for me. I see how people find so much peace in that setting to see all these other people living their lives against the odds we ever thought we could again after such tradgedy. I wish I had the courage to walk into one of those meetings and scream how much my beautiful son means to me and how much I worry about his big brother for having this happen at the tender age of 3, but I stay silent and grieve and watch the world spin. Now I've turned it off, or at least down. I can write and talk and think about it without really letting it consume me, I don't know what I'm so afraid of, perhaps it's that first year and half of non-stop crying and depression. Or at least that's what it was for me, maybe I'm afraid I will spiral back into what I was a year ago.

perhaps it's me

Thursday, April 10, 2008

to say the least

Everyday is a struggle, everyday a challenge. There are so many kind words spoken to mothers who live each day without their babies, but the cold truth is that they are just kind words.

These words are always welcomed, as I would never look down upon someone trying to love me or make me feel better, but I know they have more meaning to the person saying them than they will ever have to me. It's part of the territory, one of the realities of an existence without your child.

The truth is that time... it heals nothing. Mothers that lose their little innocents, never get better. It is simply never going to be alright, and why would I want it to be? What kind of mother wants to be 'alright' that her child's future is no longer in her hands? We aren't even the same people anymore. I died when my son died and a new me had to be reborn out of his loss. That is the truth. I'm not angry so I hope I don't come off that way, I just miss that me sometimes and I look back at pictures of me before I lost David and I want to talk to that girl. I want to remember when my biggest challenge in life was getting the bills paid or mending a suffering relationship. My biggest challenge since that day is not throwing in the towel, at any given moment, "maybe today I will take a warm bath around 3 then climb into bed and not get out until 2010". That's a challenge for me each day. Bills and hurt feelings are so plastic and insignificant now, who cares?

I have to credit the people in my life that stuck around after I lost David. Most of them disappeared. Sadly. Though I find it to be no reflection of who they are as friends, but just their inability to deal with something so real and so consuming. I miss people in my life. It's hard to make new friends, all I want to do is talk about baby grave sites and SIDS research, people don't exactly form a line for conversation like that. I've become so socially awkward that I embarrass myself every time I open my mouth. I even tried having a few drinks when out with new people and it was far worse. I guess it takes time to become functional in society again and to feel comfortable enough with yourself to feel comfortable around others. The part that really throws me off is how outgoing I used to be, I was social and fun to be around and funny, everyone always told me how funny I was. I am none of those things now. I'm not witty, or friendly, or even original. That girl I used to be did die with her son and it breaks my heart that my children will never get to know her.

How many of your angels live at home?

One of mine does, the other two live here with me.

I have to be honest, my little David truly defines who I am as a mother. It's easy to judge that statement from the outside but any other Mama that has walked a day in my shoes probably only sees it as a part of a journey. I didn't know how much I could love my children until I lost one, a terribly sad reality and something I'm not proud of, but I thank God everyday for my perspective. How many parents can say they love their children everyday like it is their last? I do now, every child, everyday!

It's taken me so much to get to where I am now. I still tell most people I have 3 little boys at home, then I usually give them the age David would be when they ask. It's painful to think every time that he is not 3, he is not at preschool, he is not keeping me busy or fighting bedtime at night... but even more painful to not mention him at all. He was here, he deserves to be accounted for, even if I won't be completely honest, that's where I am right now.

I try endlessly to come up with these great ideas to fill the house with his memory, little projects that I can look at everyday but half-way through them all I have choked on the taste that once I actually complete one, it will be another step down in the 'process' which really pisses me off. I don't ever want to be through a process of losing one of my children, I still don't like to think past the last time I saw him, much less finish a frame to put on the wall, a picture that will never be replaced with his kindergarten picture, or his first communion, or a picture from his prom.

The last time I saw him he was so happy... he fussed from the other room while I was getting my big guy dressed so I came in and he smiled as if he had gotten what he wanted. I brought him this little blanket he loved to chew on, he reached both hands out for it and when I put it in front of him, he grabbed it and put it in his mouth, contented and peaceful. So I shuffled along in my morning to get the day going, I opened the door, handed his carrier to his Dad, and watched him from the door never knowing that I would have to wait a lifetime for that moment to come again.