Journal Entry: December 9, 2007

I don't have anything imparticular that I feel I just have to get out tonight, but I wanted to detail the events of Friday night before I forgot. This is't a sad or mournful post tonight, just one to make sure I get it all down. The reason being is that I feel like the Lord's hand has been in this situation from the beginning, even to the night of her first anniversary. I need to write this out, so I never forget and for those that have followed can remember as well.

I have had a year to prepare myself for this night. A year to write something that would eloquently express my feelings. A year to think about the exact words I wanted to say to everyone that came to let them know how much they mean to me and how much their support has helped me. But nothing would come. I couldn't even muster up something cutesy to say. Nothing trite; nothing at all. This was the first indication that something wasn't going to happen.

So then Friday comes and I have my feelings all over the place. I was a little sad, a lot stressed and considered more than once to call the whole thing off. I felt like maybe I should, but equally felt like I HAVE to do this. I know that I can't go on like this forever, at every holiday mentioning her or holding onto every detail for the rest of my life. I know that she will never leave me, but I also felt like geez... how long is this going to go on? And I really felt like the people around me were/are thinking the same thing. I was cooking and cleaning and stressing out all morning. I was trying to have everthing prepared so when the time came I could "enjoy" the evening as much as possible. In the middle of finishing up the chocolate dipped marshmallows, I turned around and had the thought "I'm getting ready for a party that is not goig to happen. I'm getting ready for a gathering with no Guest of Honor." I then thought "It will only be a short while 'till I see her again. She's okay and is well taken care of and loved very much. It's as though she is on a trip away from me but someday I WILL see her again. It's ok for me to celebrate her even though she's not here, it's like she is having a going home party, kinda...maybe..." I was so comforted in that.

I'd once read somewhere a story from a bereaved mom. It was about a baby being with the babysitter and walking past the mom on the street. The babysitter was checking the mail a few yards away and the Mother watched her child with the sitter. The story was something like the Mother knowing that the baby was safe and going to return after a while. For some reason that has set in my heart with Charlotte. Like she's just gone yonder, but one day we'll be together again and I can rest in knowing she is okay. It probably doesn't make much sense, but I know what it means in my heart. Anyway, back to the night...

I fininshed the desserts and set the table. Brian walked in and commented on how nice things looked. That meant a lot to me. So we were going to get ready to go buy a real Christmas tree (which we were going to have to borrow money for...another topic altogether) and I went into the bathroom with Zach. I wanted to show him how to wipe down around the toilet (eeww...little boys!) and he starts screwing around in the bath tub. I barked at him to get out of it and just then...splat! He tripped and slipped and fell face first onto the bottom of the tub. I seriously thought he busted out his front teeth (which would have been much easier to deal with) but instead he split his chin open and had to get stitches put in.

Normally, in a situation like this, I would have gotten super mad and highly irritated. But I remained calm, strapped a towel to his chin and called Brian in. He, on the other hand was really upset. He went out to the front porch and sat with his head down. When I looked at him I could see frustration on his frame as well as sadness in knowing that the night was lost. At least that's what it looked like. We both knew we weren't going to be able to get a tree and even thought we weren't going to be here for the whole party. So off we go to the ER and found out it was going to be a 4 hour process at least.
When I checked the phone for the time, I saw that it was only 6:20pm and realized that the clinic was probably still open. I called the 800 # for the doctors office and explained the situation to the operator. She insisted that they would tell me to stay at the ER. I asked her to please check to see if maybe, just maybe we could get in. She put me on hold and as I waited, I prayed that the Lord would release a time for us to get in and see a doctor. The Operator came back on the line and said "I don't believe this. We have one appt available at 7pm." Of course you do.

While we were away, we had left Airenne with Mathias and called Auntie and Grandma to come over early to help her. Almost everything was set up, just a few details left. They assembled the remaining ornaments, took out the trash and hung the lights up. Before I had left, I took out the box of Charlotte's things and put them on my bed, intending to put a few things out on the table. I was *mentally* going over what was in the box and what I wanted to display for weeks. But as I was doleing out directions over the phone, I didn't have it in me to care what was set out. I asked my mom and sister to fininsh it up and just told them to put out whatever. My only true request was the blanket I had that matched the nightgown Charlotte was buried in. Otherthan that, I told them to do whatever.

Zach did great, took 4 stitches to the chin. We arrived back at home around 8pm. As we walked in, everyone looked to be enjoying themselves, yet not really knowing what was going to happen. Honestly, I didn't know what was going to happen either. I was completely embarrassed at how I looked. I had a house full of people (about 25-30) and was still in my sweats and tee shirt from earlier in the day. Hair a mess and no makeup on. I was planning to get ready after we got the tree, but alas, it never happened. So I high tailed it to my bedroom and Airenne followed. She had done such a fabulous job in hosting and greeting everyone. She was a real trooper. A few times that I had called to check on her, she was getting more and more nervous about us not being home and having to "host" in our absence. But she was fantastic.

I rushed to get dressed and she pulled lots of things out of the closet for me. Nothing seemed appropriate. I just couldn't decide what to put on, and it seemed like it was taking forever to find something. I turned my back to her and asked her how things were going and if she talked to Amy (who was sitting on the couch). She was on the other side of the room, near the closet and muttered "Yes, and I had a wee bit of a meltdown." My back was still to her and I said "To Amy?" When I turned around, I saw the most beautiful thing. Airenne was bawling and had her head bowed. I asked her to tell me why she was so upset, because I didn't want to assume anything. I let her know that I really care about what's bothering her, but she needs to tell me what's wrong. She just looked up with tear filled eyes and said "It's all just hitting me and I'm a little stressed." I was completely taken off guard. Airenne hasn't ever wanted to talk to me about what happened and quite frankly, I had been worried more than once that she was either internalizing all of it or it just wasn't important to her. When I've brought it up to her before she flat out told me that she didn't want to talk about it and that she just doesn't *get it*. It hurts me to hear that because it was a huge thing for our family to go through. But I never wanted to make it a big deal to her if she didn't feel that way. She's not the type of girl that opens up easily and if you question her or try to console her, she tends to walk away or pull back.

But that night, she made a hard walk to me and grabbed me and cried. She cried like I haven't seen her cry since she left the hospital when Charlotte was born. I held her and loved on her. I prayed and thanked God for allowing me to be her mom. I thanked Him for preparing her heart to become the woman He wants Her to be and for the sweetness she has. I cried with her so hard. Then it was done. She broke through. And I was there for it. Not for me to witness it, but as her mom who could love her through it.

The rest of the evening was weird. I felt totally out of place in my own home. I tried to make conversation with everyone, but couldn't really hold a thought. I knew I wanted everyone to sign our guest book (we use it for *special* gatherings at our house) but couldn't find it. Oh well. The rest was kind of a blur. I asked Brian to make an announcement to everyone, thanking them for coming and to say a prayer for our friends. He was visibly uncomfortable in doing this. There was a time when he wouldn't have been, but that night, he looked scared. We then passed out the ornaments I had made with Charlottes' feet in a clear bulb. Everyone seemed to like it and shortly after, people started leaving.

Later, my mom called to see how I was doing and told me that when she and my sister were getting the things out of Charlotte's box, my sister also had a melt down. My mom said it was pretty bad. I had considered that it may be difficult to look at those things (while I was in the ER) but dismissed it being a problem. I wasn't there and I wanted it set out. I didn't have a choice but to ask them to do it for me.

When my mom said my sister really broke down. I felt bad, but also felt like the Lord had used the night to heal a lot of hearts other than my own. I really thought/expected it to be about "me", but it wasn't. This is why things weren't working out the way "I" wanted them to. It wasn't about me at all. It never really was. He even removed me from the whole "party" so I wouldn't muddle things up and so He could do His work. Realizing this was the most emotional part of the whole night. He cares for all of us and is healing our broken hearts.
In the process of cleaning up, I have decided to pack away some of the things that have been around our home. There was a picture of her in my bedroom and one of me & Brian in the living room that was taken as we were leaving the cemetery. I also have a sleeping baby cuddled in Angel wings sitting on my end table in the living room that I will be putting in the flower bed in the backyard and I even put her book on the shelf. I'm going to go thru my computer and put all of her pictures in one folder, as right now they are all over the place on my hard drive.
All weekend I have felt like I am ok. This is behind me. We visited our old church today and saw many of our friends whom were tuned into all that had happened. One woman especially was a big support and encouragement and we spent the evening talking about it all. I didn't cry. I didn't feel bad for not crying. I actually turned the conversation to the future. I let her know I would like to one day have another baby. Hopefully a girl again. Not of course to replace Charlotte, but she was a different girl altogether. I am hopeful that this will happen. But it is all in God's time.

Journal Entry: December 7th...Happy Anniversary

Birthday vs. Anniversary. For some reason I feel like anniversary is more appropriate. More memorable sounding.

So in the aftermath of todays events, I ahve much to write. But feeling somewhat like I did a year ago, I have much to say, but the thoughts are fleeting. There is still a mess in the dining area. Cake and coffee on the tables. Everyone gone. Me, alone again staring at the computer. Pounding headache. Hum, just like last year. even tonight, I finally felt a calm, peace had washed over me. Just like I did after Charlotte was born and taken out of the room for the last time. I feel like it's over. A little relieved about it, also feeling a little guilty about .

I've noticed twice that (no, wait; three times...) a time during the day when I felt peaceful and remembered what was happening last year at the same time. Tonight it was around 11:30pm after the last person left the party. I felt strong. ready to move on. Like I could take a deep breath and let it out. Last year was the same thing. Physically, I could take a breath and let it out and feel a huge relief simply from not being pregnant any more. But mentally too, I felt a burden lifting. It is over. She is gone. I have my answer.

But tonight is different. I've never experienced the feeling of closure before, but I think that's what I'm feeling now. My very dear friend asked me tonight "Now what. What's next?" I wasn't sure what she meant at first and I think she was a little nervous to ask. ((Bless her heart)). But what she was getting at was this: How much more is there gonna be? Maybe that's why I was grieving so hard the last few days, because I know this can't go on forever. I didn't want to let go of my grief. It was my last tie to Charlotte. I've been thinking about that too... what now? I sort of want to fold everything up and put it back in the closet. Take down the pictures and let it go. I'm looking at a beautiful card I received from my sister tonight. She had a woman hand make it for me and it is so pretty. It really captures the essence of Charlotte. The last line of the card reads "Until we meet again." I think that sums it up perfectly. We WILL meet again. And for now, she is such a lucky girl.

I'm so exhausted right now. I will have to come back and update with all of the crazy antics that happenend tonight. The hospital visit, the sutures, etc. But for now, I'm off to bed.

Journal entry: December 2, 2007 The day after...

Yesterday was so emotional. I was about to write bittersweet, but I hope that will be a better choice of words for Friday. Bitter and Sweet.

The day started with me knowing the date before I even opened my eyes. I wasn't sure if I was really stewing in some sadness or if it was just happening out of my control. But nevertheless, it was a day filled with tears.

I had comitted to taking the boys to a birthday party a few weeks back, when I thought the day wouldn't be too hard to deal with. It proved to be much harder than I imagined it could be. I was sad and agitated and stressed and just feeling lousey in general. I felt fat and ugly and lonely without my baby. All this past year I had thought of this day, and yet it seems like so much has happened in one year's time. Then, as the morning opened up, it all seemed to have happened so fast.

As I was getting ready for the party, I practiced over and over how I might say that I was doing ok, should anyone ask. I looked at myself through stained eyeballs and re-applied my waterproof mascara. I had snot all over my face and my nose was raw. I snapped at everyone, I felt nauseous. I almost didn't go to the party, but couldn't let the boys down. It was their first big boy birthday party and I thought it might do me some good to force myself to get out.

Brian's mom called and I couldn't bear the thought of talking to her. I din't want to hear her voice asking me if I was ok or hearing words of sympathy she had to say. Not for anything personal, I just didn't want to talk about it. I reminded me of the day we buried Charlotte and I tried to get into the van after everyone else was loaded up in their own cars. She caught me and walked across the street to give me a hug. I remember looking down the whole time, trying not to make eye contact with her, not wanting her to touch me or hug me. Isn't that wierd? The only person I wanted to touch me or talk to me was her son. My husband. Charlotte's daddy.

The irony of it all was that I had vowed not to bring it up to anyone at the party because I din't want to jump in the spotlight. It wasn't my day or my party and quite frankly it was anybody's business. I dried up my tears for a good while and no one could tell the wiser, I think so anyways. But there was a man there, the Birthday Boy's grandpa, that talked with me for a while. He was telling me a story about a woman and her children in an airport in North Carolina. Yep, you guessed Charlotte, N.C. He must've said that name 3-4 times and each time I grinned a little inside.

After the party I got in the van and bawled. Maybe it was the warmth of the van's interior that made me feel safe, but man! I let it rip! After I got gas, picked up a vest I went home. I just wanted to be quiet. The boys had a great time and began to drift off in the car. Solitude.Or maybe moreso a sugar drop. When I got home, all I wanted to do was hug Brian. I needed to smell him and feel his strong arms. Even though he doesn't say much, sometimes all I need is a shoulder. His shoulders.

We had a minor altercation with A in the afternoon and she was pretty upset. I don't think she even knew why I was crying all day, not remembering what the day was. Then I wondered if she did know and how was she feeling? She's so tough to read. Part of it is her age, but she keeps things inside quite often. But I never talked about it with her. I didn't want to focus on it if it wasn't bothering her at all, but maybe I should have asked anyways.

Brian ended up making us dinner. We ate by candelight. He drank wine. How fancy-schmantzy. We never drink wine, but it was a nice touch. We hardly spoke of Charlotte. A while later a girl came by to pick up some stuff from Freecycle... Do you ever get the impression God is blowing you a kiss from heaven? Like He gives you a little bit of sweetness at the exact time you need encouragement? He did that for me again last night.

The girl came up to ge the stuff and I happened to be outside. Coco ran out to greet her and we spoke momentarily about her. Then the girl asks if I had recently had a baby. I said yes, but she died and she said "Me, too." I told her how sorry I was and we chatted for a bit more. I was slack jawed when she said it was one year ago, last night, that her baby boy was also Stillborn. We both cried for a minute and talked more. She ended up hanging out for over an hour with me and Brian on our front porch. The best part was that she is also a Christian and may start attenimg our MOPS meetings. I don't know why, but I felt so much better after she left.

The wekend after thanksgiving my grandmother said that I need to let this go. I was so annoyed with her. How can she possily know what this feels like. And if I'm not mistaken, doesn't she still cry for her husband? Whatever. But I do get the distinct impression some people think I need to "move it along". Oh well. I can't worry aout what other people might think. Hopefully they will nver have to loose a child.