Thursday, May 22, 2014

Return to Zero

As a college student, I watched a handful of Lifetime movies.  Guilty pleasure.  I'm embarrassed to admit that as so many of them were SO bad...bad acting, ridiculous story-line, and always a cheating/scumbag man.  Ahh, back when life was carefree and I had time to waste :)  That being said, I was unsure how the Lifetime movie Return to Zero would be.  It actually had some well known actors, but you just never know.  Regardless, I made Andrew sit down with me last weekend and watch it in its entirety.  And we sobbed our way through it.

Return to Zero portrays stillbirth.  A topic I've never really seen in TV or on movies, because it just isn't discussed.  As I watched Minnie Driver deliver a baby that would never utter a sound, it brought everything flooding back.  So many details were spot on - from the panic with the dopplar, denial with the ultrasound, the grey leaf they hang on your door at the hospital, the emptiness that follows.  Even the ridiculous comments that were said to make you feel better, but in actuality make you want to scream.  It touched on so many of the taboo things one never wants to know until going into it.  My heart just broke all over again.  I was so very thankful Andrew was there for me to cling to as we watched on.

I learned 2 things from this movie.  First, I have pushed so many of my emotions from Reagan aside because of the boys - I had to "be strong for them" as I was told by so many while they were fighting for their lives, inside and outside the womb.  I spend the whole time I wasn't pregnant grieving so completely and trying to find a way to just take a step forward.  When I started having pregnancy complications, the added "stress" of the grief only made things worse.  I had no chose but to put it aside.  But that, combined with a complicated, high risk pregnancy, has made it so difficult to truly bond with my boys.  I'm not sure how much of that was the pregnancy, the fact I couldn't see them for hours after they were born, couldn't hold them for days, and just stared at their tiny bodies through the isolet.  I kept telling myself I wasn't having breakdowns and crying while in the NICU because I was prepared for their NICU journey, but I think some of it was that I just couldn't handle anymore pain or crying, so I pushed my fear for the boys down deep too.  And yet, God chose to bless us with them anyway and bring them safely home.

Second, I learned what a profound difference hope in the Lord makes.  And that is where our story begins to differ.  The husband immediately resorted to drinking and had an affair (wouldn't be a true Lifetime movie without it)  Minnie Driver (already forgot her character name) was a shell of the woman she once was after her loss.  Now, granted, I was too for a bit.  But I live each day knowing with confidence that this is not the end of my story.  I know I will see our sweet Reagan again, hold her in my arms, dance with her on streets of gold.  There is incredible pain in knowing that I will not do those things here with her, but an eternal perspective helps so very much.  If that was the end of things, I had a daughter and she died and was gone, how could I go on?  How could anyone?

For anyone who wants to understand a little better the emotional side, how it feels to be handed a child who is not breathing, to take your first family picture and not know what kind of expression should be on your face, to be confronted immediately by others healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, and to not really be able to talk about it - I recommend the movie.  It was definitely written by someone who had been through stillbirth.  I'm not sure when, or even if, it will air again.  But I can post something about it if I see that.  I think it's out on DVD too, though I can't imagine Red Box would carry that...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mother's Day

As Mother's Day is approaching, I am facing so many mixed emotions.  I wanted to try to sort through them all now before the actual weekend so I can try to enjoy some special time with my boys.  But I know there will still be this ache, this emptiness, in my heart where Reagan should be.  I wonder if I will ever encounter a holiday without that.

Mother's Day has been particularly painful for me over these past 4 years, and I expect the same to be true this year.  I don't think living children will take away the years of hurt and frustration over not being able to conceive, over waiting out our time with babies in the freezer, of loss and hardships.  The last 3 years I've completely avoided church on this day as it was just entirely too much for me to handle.  I think I went 4 years ago but had a breakdown once I got home, and I knew well enough to not go back.  The sermon is always about mothers and appreciating our moms.  There are flowers handed out to all the mothers, or special thing where all the moms get to stand up, some form of recognition.  But what about those who so desperately want to be a mother and can't get pregnant?  Or what about those who have children in heaven but not on Earth?  That's been me, for 4 long years.  And now, as I approach the 5th Mother's Day, I finally have children with me.  Someone said I'll be celebrating my "first official Mother's Day."  Ouch.  So much pain.  But we are baptizing Warren and Dean on Sunday, so I will enter church with a smile on my face.  I so wish that the baptism date was a separate event, but that is not the case.  So I am trying to sort through how I feel and try to be my emotional wreck before Sunday so that this year it can be all about God, Warren, and Dean as they are baptized.

Holidays seem to be particularly lonely.  Days when I should be so happy and celebrating something, that's when I miss Reagan the most.  Our family isn't complete here and never will be.  As we all gather for brunch on Sunday, she won't be there in an adorable, frilly purple dress, laughing and showing off.  It just makes my heart ache, physically ache, when I take the time to stop and think about it.  And on a day when her hand print art should be hanging right there next to the boys, I feel it even more.  I wonder if she knows this, if she thinks of me on Mother's day.  Maybe she is creating a stockpile of handmade art for me when I get to join her.  Wouldn't that be beautiful??

But this year, I do have something to celebrate.  I have my miracle twins.  Exactly one year ago, at 19 weeks, I began having contractions and was admitted for the first time to Labor & Delivery.  A few days later, I was admitted again and stayed until they were born.  And now, they are home with me.  Completely healthy, no longer on monitors, no treatments needed.  I am also able to reflect on how gracious God is and how He carried them through such a battle, from the very beginning.  No doctor thought they would make it.  I remember celebrating with the nurses when we reached 23 weeks - viability.  And again when we reached 24 - hope.  We didn't make it to that 28 week mark for next celebration, but God is bigger than all that.  And, at 26 weeks 6 days, they were born.  I looked back at their medical records and Warren's APGAR scores were 7 and 9.  For anyone who knows medicine or preemies, you know that is just amazing.  He came out screaming, with one arm overhead, crying "I did it!!" And from that point on, they have fought with persistence which can only come from above.  They learned to breath, to keep their heart rates up, to keep their temperatures regulated, all these little things most moms take for granted.  And on Mother's Day, I am extra grateful for them and how far they have come.

As I have been raising them and seeing firsthand the struggles of raising a child, I am also all the more thankful for my own mother.  I never realized the sacrifices you make for your children.  I always took for granted that my mom stayed home with us, cleaned up after us, cooked for us.  I never realized how exhausting that can be.  From 6AM until 9PM, I rarely stop.  It's feed them, play with them, try to get them to sleep, repeat.  And then, if they do sleep, the floors need to be vacuumed, baby food needs to be made, dinner prepped, laundry folded, etc.  It never ends.  And I have great support from Andrew, so can't imagine what it would be like without him and his willingness to help...whole new appreciation for single moms.

We're celebrating our Mother's Day on Saturday with a trip to the mountains, the last place I took Reagan before complications started.  I always think of that trip when I think of her, and I can't wait to show the boys.  I hope to put of pictures of that event soon!