May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Healing is a Recurring Theme

I'm Mandy, I've had six children, but only enjoy two on earth because my two precious sons died the days they were born almost eight years apart due to Potter's Syndrome bilateral renal agenesis.  This blog is my story and in telling that story for the past two years I realize that I have a recurring theme - healing.  That's because in the almost ten years - yes, ten years (which caused me to tear up when that hit home today) - since I lost my firstborn, Wyatt, I have been in the process of healing.

I'm preparing to go under the knife (dental bone grafting to help fix a lovely congenital defect on my side of the family - ugh!) today and find myself thinking a lot about healing.  My gums will close up around the graft and with the most minimal help from me and my hygiene, they will heal and hopefully grow lots of bone thereafter.  Most wounds will do that.  They just heal so long as we keep them clean and undisturbed.  Which makes me wonder if the human brain has a similar capacity.  How does our mind heal from such a damaging wound as a child's death?  Would my brain heal these wounds much easier if I would just stop sticking my finger into them?  But how can I not?  How can I not remember the days of my sons' births?  How does a time of year, outfit, flower or even a scent not remind me of moments when I carried them in my belly?  I don't know but it interests me.  The human body has a remarkable capacity for healing so it's logical to believe that the human mind does as well.

I'm a healing in progress.  Imperfect.  Broken.  But healing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Something Different About a First Child

Eli's second birthday is quickly approaching and I find myself this year, for the first time in two years, not pregnant in February.  The memories of the last two years haunt me during these few weeks.  My husband's birthday and our second daughter's birthdays are also rapidly approaching so it is hard not to remember our celebrations last year and how joyous (and plump) I was compared to the year before when I was just a little less plump and a whole lot less joyous.

But the pregnancy, birth and loss of Eli was different from Wyatt's.  The knowledge of what was to pass made things easier but so did my children.  For all of my worry about what Eli's death would do to them and then when he did die, having to watch my children suffer through the same emotions that I felt, it was nothing like watching our first child, Wyatt, die, and living through the aftermath.  I now know why.  Because when Wyatt died, in a way, so did my motherhood.  I had nothing but pictures, a few clothes, blankets and stuffed animals to remember him by and to identify myself as a mother.  But without the baby those things could not be so readily displayed and I found myself visibly robbed of claiming that identity.

When Eli died I suffered through many of the same emotions and difficulties.  Some of the worst for me was my milk coming in and still looking pregnant but not having that baby to make it all worth while.  But I was still a mother to everyone else.  I had three little girls at my bedside the day I gave birth to him and every day after.  They needed me and more than they'll ever understand, I needed them.  They gave my days purpose and eventually they helped me to see the little joys again.  After Wyatt died it was just my husband and I.  But he went back to work and then it was just me alone with my grief and my wounded body.  Physically and mentally I probably healed more peacefully since I was really able to go at my own pace.  But it was so lonely and overwhelming that I ended up going back to work as soon as my doctor would let me.  We tried to fill our hearts by getting a dachshund puppy but her needs and our abilities to meet them did not quite match up so we made the gut wrenching decision to find a family who could make her happier.  That didn't exactly help my grieving process.  But neither did banging my head against a brick wall over a five pound puppy!  It just wasn't the same.  My husband gives me an identity as a wife but only my child could identify me as his mother.

So with Eli even though it was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting to care for our children while going through a pregnancy that would end in loss and then experiencing that loss and trying to heal from giving birth via c-section, it was those three girls that saved me.  They kept me afloat and for that I am so thankful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lenten Observance

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday or the beginning of the Lenten period in the Catholic Church.  Yesterday marks the one month countdown to Eli's second birthday.  Sunday was weekly mass.  Sunday I found myself thinking about one month from yesterday (Eli's birthday) and how appropriate it is to me that his birthday falls during Lent.  Lent to me is a heavy time.  For me, it is a time to prepare for Jesus' death and as a mother who has experienced two of her own sons' deaths I can really relate to the time and to Mary's loss as Jesus' mother.  Now, more than ever, I feel that heaviness in my heart and my bones.  And apparently I will for at least the next five years.  You see, I looked at the calendars through 2018 and Eli's birthday during each of those years, and likely for all of the following years, will always fall during Lent.

Giving up chocolate or other sweets, even television, seems so silly in light of what I gave up just two years ago.  Lent has now become an acute observance of mourning for me and there is no earthly deprivation that could hold a candle to the deprivation of my sons that I live with every day.  I would live that one day of Eli's life just one day every year if I could.


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