Tag Archive | positive

Permission to be Happy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  I haven’t needed to, but I’ve wanted to.  I miss writing.  My goal is to write once a week… we’ll see how that goes.

Life has changed.  Life has really changed.  I have changed.  And here’s why…

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Introducing Oliver Raymond.  He was born on Monday, January 20th (Martin Luther King Day!) at 11:17am.  He weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 22 and a half inches long.  He is perfect.

In the last 14 weeks, I have felt every emotion you could possibly name.  I think that having a baby is the biggest life-changing event anyone goes through, and it’s impossible to prepare for it mentally and emotionally.  No matter how many babies I have been around growing up, there was no possible way to prepare for having to care for a baby 24/7.  It’s hard.  And with Oliver’s arrival and the immediate adjustment, came a lot of different emotions.

However, this post isn’t about everything I have felt and the roller coaster I have been on over the last 3 months.  This post is about something that I said yesterday during my daily conversation with my mom…

“I am the happiest I have ever been.”

At first, I was a little shocked that came out of my mouth… how could that be?  How dare I?  Shouldn’t I never be as happy as I was before Maya died?  Shouldn’t there be a perpetual sadness that looms overhead?  In that moment, I gave myself permission.  Permission for the above statement to be true.  It is true.  And it’s OK.

In the days following Maya’s death, a dear friend sent me a message.  She had experienced a similar loss one year prior.  She told me that any feeling I had was normal as long as it did not pose a danger to myself or others.  This advice has stuck with me since then and I repeat this mantra to myself nearly every day.  Throughout the process of grieving the loss of Maya, which I continue to do, I would remember these words through bouts of anger, frustration, disbelief, and happiness.  Now, my grief looks different.  I am no longer defined by my loss as I was in the months immediately following it.  The grief, though still with me, has quieted down.  And with that comes feelings of guilt.  I have felt guilty for feeling happy and I have felt guilty for feeling tired and frustrated when up in the middle of the night.

Today, I am liberating myself and will no longer feel guilt.  I am giving myself permission to be happy.  And permission to not be happy all the time.  I am replaying my friend’s words in my head as they still hold true.  What I have realized is that attempting to rationalize my feelings, whether they be positive or negative, is a waste of time.

Oliver is amazing.  He brings me so much joy and hope for the future.  I cherish every day that I have with him and am grateful for what my life has become.

I need to believe that Maya is proud of me.  I need to believe that she is OK with the fact that I do not grieve full time as I once did.  I need to believe that she wants me to live on and be the best Mommy to Oliver that I can be.  I wish she were here… she’d be a wonderful big sister.

 

Making a Change

I had my annual appointment with my fabulous OB/GYN yesterday.  I was very anxious and emotional.  I thought I would be in there pregnant before being due for my annual.  My doctor was amazing as usual and helped put my mind at ease.  She validated my feelings and concerns around my thyroid and together, we came up with a plan that I feel comfortable with.

One thing she asked me about was my diet.  I threw out the wide range of excuses that I use for not eating well – the main one being that the bad foods I eat make me happy.  (Awful, I know.)  She asked if I’ve ever thought about going gluten free.  Though I’ve thought about it and even tried some gluten free cereals and cookies, I never jumped fully on that bandwagon because many gluten free products contain soy, which is toxic to the thyroid.  She told me that she’s done a lot of research recently and that gluten has been closely linked to decreased thyroid function and fertility.  She suggested I try it, assuring me I would feel better.

I left my appointment feeling reassured and optimistic.  I had a lot to think about.  I told Hackie how the appointment went and we discussed our options.  I told him what my Dr. said about gluten and he jumped on board almost immediately.  I told him I wanted to do more research and really think about what it would mean for us to go gluten free.  We went out to dinner and both ate a lot of bread – perhaps we knew what was going to happen next.

This morning, I got up feeling a sense of enlightenment.  There are lots of things in this world that make me happy.  I do not need to overindulge in food to feel joy and happiness.  I need to eat, first and foremost, to live.  Maya taught me that tomorrow is not a guarantee and that life can change in an instant.  The only way for her to live on is through me, and I need to live the healthiest life I can for her.  I need to feel my best and be my best every day – that’s what she would have wanted.

I started researching and quickly found that nearly 100% of people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have at least gluten sensitivity, if not gluten intolerance.  My basic understanding is that the gluten increases the thyroid antibodies, which are what attack my thyroid gland and decrease its natural function.  My first reaction upon learning this was to be really pissed.  I’ve discussed my thyroid problems with several doctors and none of them ever recommended I go gluten free.  I feel like I fell victim to western medicine – the idea that a prescription drug will fix everything!  Then, I was pissed at myself for not doing this research sooner.  I am so grateful to my OB for opening my eyes to something so simple that has the potential to make a huge difference.

Hackie and I headed to Trader Joe’s and stocked up.  We both agreed that, to avoid feeling deprived and resentful, we needed lots of foods that we know we will like.  We realized that there is very little that we have to completely give up and that many of the foods that we like are naturally gluten free.  When we got home, we cleaned out the fridge and the pantry.  I threw the half a pan of amazing brownies that were left in the trash and we compiled two bags of food to give away.  Our fridge and pantry now look lighter and healthier.

We were told we would feel better in a week.  I’m looking forward to feeling the effects of going gluten free.  I know it will not be easy and I know there will be times when I am tempted by certain foods.  I am beyond grateful that my dear husband is doing this with me and is as excited (if not more) by the idea of living a healthier lifestyle.  There have been times before when I’ve dramatically changed my eating and it works really well and then I fall off course.  This is the first time Hackie and I are doing something together.  This is the first time we have literally cleaned out the foods that are off limits.  This is the first time it feels like a lifestyle change and not a diet.  This is the first time it will work and it will stick.

I’m doing this for myself, my husband, Maya, and my future children.  I fully believe it will make a difference and can’t wait to come back here and report on my progress!

Making Connections

I wanted to write this days ago, but life has gotten in the way.  This past Saturday, Hackie and I had the opportunity to go to an event at Children’s Hospital for bereaved parents.  We were nervous as we didn’t know what to expect.  The day was beautiful and we both left feeling so fulfilled.

The day started with a panel of bereaved parents who each shared their story.  They did not all lose babies.  Some lost older children who had been sick or been in an accident.  They each talked about how they cope and there were many things said that Hackie and I both felt we could relate to.  Following the panel, we were put into small groups for table discussions facilitated by the social workers from the hospital.  In our group were two other young couples.  Both had lost infants and one of the couples lost their son just three days before we had Maya.  The six of us clicked almost instantly.  We related on so many levels and I loved hearing about their babies and their journeys through grief.

I want to list some of the common themes of the day in hopes of educating my readers on this world of baby loss.

-There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Though we would all love to have a manual, there is no guide to navigating this long road.  Those who haven’t experienced loss often have unrealistic expectations as to where we should be in our journey towards healing.  Please don’t judge us.  We have to take what we need and do what we feel is right in order to face life without our babies.

-We LOVE to talk about our babies.  We like to tell our stories.  We like to hear others’ stories.  Please don’t think that asking about our babies will make us sad.  When you ask me about Maya, you are acknowledging her life.  You are acknowledging that I am a mother and that you remember her.  Even if you want to know what happened, it does not make me sad.  I like to talk about my daughter.

-It is beneficial to talk about our journey through grief.  When we ignore it, it gets louder and takes over until we acknowledge that it’s there.  Most of the time, we deal with our grief in the privacy of our own home or car.  We don’t bring it up because we don’t want to make those around us feel uncomfortable.  However, asking sincerely how we are doing and just generally staying in touch goes a long way.

-All of the couples in our small group lost our first, and don’t have other living children yet.  We all agreed that parenting our angel babies is very difficult, but very much desired.  We all believe we are mothers and fathers; however, what that looks like is much different than the traditional understanding of the role of a parent.  We want our babies’ lives to matter.  We want them to be remembered and will do everything in our power to ensure they are not forgotten.  We just ask that we not be judged by those who have not walked this path.

After the morning small group discussions, we broke for lunch.  We had lunch with the same two couples and continued the discussion.  We felt such a connection and it was so comforting.  We had another chunk of time in the afternoon to continue the small group discussions.  I think we could have sat there for hours.  After that, we made a stepping stone for Maya and participated in a remembrance ceremony where we lit a candle for our precious angel.

Often times, this climb feels very lonely.  The world carries on as we struggle to get out of bed and make it through the day.  I left Saturday feeling less alone.  I left with two phone numbers of women who are walking a similar path, and who I feel I can turn to when the road gets real bumpy.

One thing I have struggled with is whether or not it was necessary to transport Maya to Children’s when she had such a slim chance at that point.  The neonatologist said that Children’s could say they did all they could whereas Emerson (without a NICU) couldn’t.  Still, I wondered if it was really necessary to put her and then myself through the trauma that went with being moved.  Now, I understand the purpose.

I continue to believe in fate.  It was fate that she was transferred to Children’s.  Had she not been transferred, we would not have been connected to this hospital.  We would not have been invited to this event, and we would not have met these wonderful and supportive people.  It was truly a blessing to make these connections and I am so grateful.

October

I have a really good feeling about this month.  October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I am feeling very motivated to do as much as I can to honor Maya.  Starting with… CarlyMarie’s {Capture Your Grief} project.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate.  When I first read about it, I wanted to.  Then I read the details and I didn’t think I would be able to keep up.  Then, this morning, I changed my mind again.  Day 1’s theme was sunrise.  On my way to work, I took this picture:

It’s very hard to take a picture of the sunrise where I live.  There are lots of trees in the way so this was the best I could do.  I actually really like the picture because of the way the clouds look.  I like to think of Maya dancing among the clouds.

October is going to be good.  It has to be good.  I have a lot to focus on and a lot to look forward to.  I have learned how to move through my grief rather than avoid it.  Living through the pain, feeling it with every ounce of my soul makes each day somewhat easier to bear.  I no longer live each day in fear of when the sadness will strike because I know I can get through it.  They say the last stage of grief is acceptance.  As I have said before, grief is not linear and I am not where near the last ‘stage’.  I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a point of acceptance – I don’t like that word in this situation.  What I have figured out how to do is embrace my loss as part of my life.  By embracing my loss, I am acknowledging Maya’s life and the effect it has had on me and on others.

October 1st – Rabbit Rabbit – It has to be good :)

Progress.

Today I am feeling hopeful.  Hopeful for this upcoming week.  Hopeful for the month of September.  Hopeful for good things to come.  Last night, we had a blue moon – the second full moon of the month.  This will not happen again until July 2015.  I went outside with Hackie and we wished on the moon.

As you may remember from this post, I say “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first of every month.  It’s supposed to be the first thing out of your mouth, though I’m not sure I’ve ever remembered first thing.  I tend to talk to myself in the morning and by the time I remember it’s the 1st of the month, I’ve said other things.  This morning, however, I looked at the clock at 1:50 and I whispered “Rabbit, Rabbit”.  It was definitely the first thing I said today.  I am so hopeful that September will bring good days.

Part of what has me feeling so hopeful today is that I have spent much of the day reflecting on how far I have come.  It has been exactly 11 weeks since Maya was born and died.  At first, I couldn’t focus enough to read, I cried several times a day, and couldn’t fathom how I would ever function successfully again.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store or out to dinner.  With each week, I reached a new milestone.  I started and finished 2 books, I went to the grocery store, I did the dishes and the laundry.  Some of these milestones I remember vividly.  For a long time, I didn’t want to do any errands by myself.  I was willing to travel alone to reach a destination like a friend’s house or my mom’s, but I didn’t want to walk into a store by myself for fear that something would set me off or upset me.  One afternoon, maybe a  month ago, Hackie was building some shelves for our bedroom.  He needed wood glue and sandpaper.  He was covered in sawdust and asked me to run to the hardware store.  I remember thinking, “but I don’t do errands by myself”.  The rational side of me kicked in and I realized that he was building these shelves for me, and I needed to run this errand for him.  I remember that milestone very clearly because I felt like it was true progress in my journey towards healing.

Heading back to work was major progress.  Getting through each week will feel like progress.  Making plans for the end of September feels like progress.  Progress feels good.  I have gone shopping by myself both yesterday and today – progress.  I walked by children’s clothing stores and felt OK – sure, it stings, but baby clothes and I have to co-exist in this world so I have to figure out a way to be OK with it.  I went to the grocery store by myself and I found myself wondering – is this the first time I’ve gone grocery shopping alone?  Did I miss that milestone?  I honestly can’t remember – so maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

When I reflect on how much progress I have made, I am hopeful for what the next month will bring.  I am hopeful it will bring more progress.  I have had moments when I think of Maya and smile rather than feel sad.  I am hoping to have more of those moments.  I planted some sunflower seeds back in April.  Maya and I planted them together.  The flowers have opened.  They are so beautiful and they make me think of Maya and smile.

While shopping today, I found a pink candle.  The scent is ‘pink sands’ .  It is the prettiest shade of pink and it smells so good.  It now sits on my desk burning and it makes me think of Maya and smile.

Today went by fast.  I was motivated to get a lot done on my list and I was productive.  I feel good and I am so happy to start a new month with a good day.  A good day.  That’s progress too because for this longest time I would say that no day was good.  I would describe my days as ‘bad days’ and ‘better days’.  Now, I can say I have had a good day.  I know Maya is smiling down on me and is proud that her mommy is living on, feeling hopeful, and experiencing brighter moments.

Finding the Positive

I’ve always said that one of my secrets to leading a happy life and being a genuinely happy person is my ability to find the positive in any situation.  This is how I have coped with many tough things in both my personal and professional life.  However, I can’t use that tactic in this situation.  My newborn daughter died.  There is nothing positive about it.  No matter how deep I dig, I will not find the positive in this situation.  There is nothing good, nothing beneficial, nothing that was “for the best”.  IT SUCKS!

However, I have the desire to recognize something positive.  I yearn to be back in my happy place.  I want so badly to be my genuinely happy self again.  Instead of looking for the positive in the situation (did I mention that there is nothing positive and that this totally SUCKS?), I have found myself recognizing the positive outcomes of the situation.

First and foremost, this has changed me and as I have said previously, I believe it has changed me for the better.  I haven’t discovered all the ways it’s changed me just yet (it’s too soon), but I know I will be a better person because of Maya and because I am forced to travel this journey called healing.  Positive.

My relationship with my husband has taken on a whole new meaning and grown stronger.  He will get his own post soon about how incredible and amazing he is.  For now, let’s just say that going on this journey alongside him has made me see how truly blessed I am.  Positive.

Along the same lines, I have been given the gift of time.  When I was pregnant with Maya, I was telling a friend that I was nervous about the 4 weeks in between when school ended and my due date.  I was afraid I would go crazy with eagerness and anticipation.  She told me to savor the time with my husband because it’s the last we have before becoming parents and before our lives would change forever.  For at least another year, it will still be just my husband and me with the dog.  We have been forced to have this time together just the two of us, with no living children.  I have thought about this a lot.  I could resent the time and be angry at the circumstances.  Or, I could receive the cards I have been dealt and see the time as a gift.  My husband and I have decided to make the most of this extra time that we have where it will be just the two of us (and the dog).  Positive.

My OB has been amazing.  She spent an hour with us two weeks after I delivered to go through my labor.  She was compassionate, reassuring, and sensitive.  She has returned my phone calls promptly and done everything we have requested.  She sent a card and wrote that she will be there for us however she can be and hopes we can find closure together.  I have always had a negative attitude about the medical field after having some bad experiences years ago.  She has changed how I feel.  It’s comforting to know that I have a doctor who will treat me as a person and not just as a patient.  Positive.

My friendship with my best friend (who is more like a sister) has grown stronger.  She has been there for me for every leg of this journey.  We have been friends for more than 10 years and have had our share of ups and downs, but have always promised each other that we are there for one another no matter what.  She has been there for me full force.  I am forever grateful and indebted to my friend for sitting with me, listening, and understanding as much as she can.  In addition, since I have spent more time with her, I have spent more time with her kids (my niece and nephew) and am starting to feel closer to them as well.  Positive.

My mother is a saint.  I already knew that.  Her strength through this all has been contagious and she has helped me find the strength to live on.  I have spent a lot of extra time with her this summer and I know that ten years from now when I look back on this summer, I will have fond memories of the time spent with my mom.  Positive.

I have learned that I can’t find the positive in every situation.  There are some that have not one ounce of positive.  However, I can identify positive outcomes.  I believe there are more to come and I am paying very close attention so I can soak them up for all they are worth.  Being happy is where I am most comfortable and I am slowly getting back there.