Monday, May 21, 2012

Grief after hours

My typical night of blogging involves:

1. Staying up till 2 am (or later).
2. Engrossing myself in the melodious strains of Meredith Andrews and Laura Story.
3. Wiping out a half a roll of toilet paper to take care of my teary eyes and snotty nose.

Oh yeah . . . and then I write.

Tonight, however, involves staying up till 1 (slightly better), the sound of my keyboard filling the empty silence, and there is no snot to be found. (Aren't you glad to know that?!)  In fact, I actually find myself quite at peace, and . . . dare I say it? . . . happy.

Lately, I have been (quite successfully) distracting myself with my business. I just don't have the emotional energy or desire to visit my grief -- so I just keep plowing ahead, keping my mind occupied by what I have to look forward to.

Every once in a while, when I'm reminded of pregnancy in some capacity, I get this feeling of regret. It's like some part of me remembers . . . remembers that I "should" be 30 weeks pregnant. That I "should" be complaining about aches and pains. That I "should" be making room for baby, setting up Maddy's big girl room, and getting ready for all things baby.

Most of the time, I can visit that regret for a few minutes, and then just move on. But I have found my grief -- or whatever you want to call the melancholy feeling I get -- creeping up whenever I actually do take a break, and have time to think. And in those times, that feeling is not so easy to dismiss.

For instance, last weekend we went to the lake with Ryan's family. It was relaxation at its finest. No agenda. No chores. No work. (OK, maybe I worked a tad while everyone else took a nap.) We went to the pool. Played games. Ate fresh-cut fries and coconut cream waffles -- in the same meal.  And then on top of that, good company. Good food. Good fun.

So, why at the end of the second day, did it come creeping back. That feeling. The feeling of being angry, discontent, and just plain irritable? I know what the feeling means. But it comes when I'm not even thinking about Olivia. It catches me off guard and I don't have the wherewithal to warn everybody, "Hey. I'm unexpectedly grieving my baby right now. Just a heads up in case I get crabby for no reason. (And chances are, I will.)"

Same thing happened on Mother's Day. I sang in church that morning for the first time after our loss, which felt great. And I made it through (mostly) tear-free. Then we had a feast at my parents' house, and had pretty much the perfect day: Drinking iced tea on the porch, blowing bubbles with Maddy, playing badminton in the sun, and finishing it off with homemade blackberry pie and vanilla ice cream.

But as soon as we left, it began creeping up again. Almost imperceptible at first. But by the end of the night, I took myself straight to bed, didn't say goodnight to anyone and cried myself to sleep -- unapologetically leaving nightime parenting duty to dad. (I didn't even take my makeup off -- and that's saying something.)

Poor Ryan, no doubt, believed he ruined my Mother's Day. I even gave him some sort of reason for why I was acting the way I was. But that was only a small sliver of my feelings. The truth was that I was just plain missing my baby.

Then the other day at a party, there was a woman who was due within days of me, had her big round belly, and talked of baby showers and pregnancy complaints. There's nothing wrong with her coming, or being due when I was, or of having a girl, or of talking about all the things people talk about when they are pregnant. (Especially when she has no idea that I lost a baby and would be due at the same time.)

But there it was again. THAT FEELING! I tried to be as professional as I could be, and I HOPE that I pulled that off. But deep inside I was ready to flee. Ryan was asleep by the time I finally got home, so I called a friend over, and we drank a glass of wine and reminisced about our babies. I didn't let myself cry -- but talking about it definitely helped.

I know my counselor has suggested that I set aside time for my grief. To pull it out of the box for a time . . . let myself feel my regret . . .  and then put it away for another set time.

It sounds like great advice . . . but I don't know how to do that. How do you even measure how well you're doing at setting "office hours" for your grief? I wish picking up grief and putting it down could be so literal and tangible. That seems so so much easier to manage than these waves of melancholy that sweep over me (and crash into those around me) at the worst possible times.

I have a feeling that if I could set up office hours -- they just might look like this:

Whether it's just the time of day -- or whether it's during my off time -- for whatever reason, grief always seems to happen in the after hours.

At least, for the moment, it doesn't feel quite as consuming as it used to. And at least those after hours are just a wee bit earlier than they used to be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"I want it all!"

Last weekend, I was in Vegas for my business conference. This year, they added the Prize Patrol. It sounds corny as I write it, but it was actually kinda fun. You're in the middle of a conference soaking in amazing training, when suddenly sirens go off, lights are flashing, and it's time! Time for the Prize Patrol! (I warned you that it was corny.)

The prizes varied from tee-shirts to backstage passes to meet Sara Evans to . . . the "I WANT IT ALL!"

(And in case you're wondering, winning the "I WANT IT ALL" gets you all of my business's new products for free, which of course, all of us wanted.)

The ladies who were drawing the names probably had one-too-many fizzy tabs to drink that day. But when they got to the grand prize, they would ask, "What do you want?!?!?" And we'd all yell back, "I WANT IT ALL."

But -- that was last weekend. The lights and sirens are a distant memory. I had no keepsake prize, no amazing free set of products. In spite of that, I still feel the echo in my heart. "I WANT IT ALL."

And I do.

I want to be pregnant. I want Olivia back. I want my business to skyrocket. I want Maddy to be safe and healthy. I want our family to be able to live life by design, and not be default. I want freedoms and choices. I want control over my body, control over my pregnancies, control over my life.

But I also want to surrender to God. To lead a life worthy of His calling.

I know deep inside that I cannot, in this moment, have it all. I can't have Olivia back. And I can't get pregnant, in spite of our efforts. And yet again, I'm learning that in most things, I simply don't have control.

But there are a few things that I can control, and I'm clinging to that. I can control my attitude, even as I can't control my grief and feelings. I can control my mindset, time and activity I put into my business -- even as I have to let go of the outcome. I can control in some small way the demands I make on my body.

Ryan and I have chosen for a short time to stop trying for a baby. It's a super hard, emotional decision for us. (OK, let's be honest. It's really only hard for me.) But I have to recongnize the limitations of my body. My body has a track record of not doing pregnancy well. I don't know how I could keep up with the momentum of my business and the needs of my family while feeling pukey all the time. Or worse, while being completely devastated over another loss.

Plus, the two-week wait alone is making me crazy. For those of you who have gone through this year after year (even month after month), my heart goes out to you. I don't know how you do it.

Even as I feel mostly at peace with our decision -- knowing deep inside that it is a relatively short wait we will have before we try again -- it still breaks my heart to know that I won't be pregnant when Olivia's due date comes around in August.

I had always counted on getting pregnant right away. In fact, because both of my pregnancies were "accidents," I just assumed that if I wanted to be pregnant and so much as blinked, it would happen. Not so much.

So I have something new to grieve. Another expectation that I didn't realize I had that is now lost.

Many times a day, my heart still screams out  "I WANT IT ALL," as if I could ever forget. But I am trying to make myself whisper gently back, "Be still. And know that God is God. Everything is in His hands."

I might not ever have it all.

But really, when it comes down to it, the most important thing is that I have Him. And He will never change. And He will never be taken from me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Questions to mull over

Just a short note tonight . . .

If you haven't noticed, I've had a lot fewer posts lately. I've been super busy ramping up my business, which has actually been a good distraction.

I've been mulling through a few thoughts, but I'd actually love your input. Because as much as I think about each issue, I just come up with more questions than answers. So -- give me your thoughts! I'll mull over them . . . and hopefully one of these days write on them!

What do you think "Christian grief" means?

What is the role of positive attitude in grief? Are the two mutually exclusive? Does feeling sad or depressed mean that you need to change your attitude? Or are those feelings just a normal reaction and does not mean you are having a negative attitude?

How does other people's positivity make you feel in your grief? (As in, responses such as, "But you have so much to be thankful for . . . your faith, your other children, your family, your friends" etc.) Is there a place where others being positive is helpful?

What does it mean to honor God in your grief?

Tell me your thoughts!