Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lessons in Life

We suffered a small tragedy in the backyard today. While mowing the lawn, Tim accidentally ran over a baby rabbit. I was getting ready for our friends to come over and was wondering what was taking him so long. When he finally came in the house, he shared the story with me, his heart obviously heavy with emotion. He hadn't seen the baby bunny lying in the tall grass.

I knew how guilty he felt, and told him that it really wasn't his fault. He couldn't have seen the bunny. Inside I was reflecting on how many times that he had shared that same message with me over the past 8 weeks. How daily I have inflicted wounds upon my soul feeling that somehow I might have caused Cara's death or been able to prevent it. To have my daughter die inside of me is by far the most painful thing I have ever had to deal with. There is always this sense that in some way I or my body failed her. Was it something I ate? Did I work too hard? Did my body attack the placenta? (One theory the doctors are investigating now.) Was she moving less? Should I have noticed something? I knew what Tim felt, but I also knew it was beyond his control.

The bunny had a sibling who survived and was still hiding in the yard, so we were able to see it and see that life was continuing. And although he was frightened by our very presence, we were joyed to see this small little life nestled in our backyard.

We were outside with our friends hours later when the mother returned in search of her bunnies. She found the one and for a moment appeared disoriented, confused. She jumped around frantically searching. The surviving bunny was trying to latch on and nurse, but she kept moving about. Finally she settled down, and it was able to nurse.

It was about this point that we realized there where two other babies in another part of the yard. She did not pay attention to them, so we wondered if they weren't from another litter. After the mother moved on to another yard, the lone bunny made his way to the other two. It was as if to say, I'm going to need you guys now.

After our friends left, Tim and I were sitting outside talking. I started relating this back to our own life. I asked Tim if possibly this wasn't an analogy for our own children. We have always desired to have more than two living children. We have lost our first child, but maybe we will able to have another. Maybe the other two we will adopt. Or maybe we end up having to adopt all three.

Whatever the final outcome, there was a hope instilled with these little tiny lives around us. It doesn't make this any less painful, but lately after the huge emotional tear fests, I sometimes smile and think at least we are close to trying it all again.

Here are some pictures of the bunnies:

The surviving sibling

The mother and baby nursing. See his little feet pressed up against her belly. I thought about how if we are able to have another child, that I will hopefully be nursing, but I'll also be grieving missing that experience with Cara. While we will embrace each moment with future children, there is a sense that we will also have to grieve through missing those experiences with Cara.The other two babies

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Lab

So I was a queen for a brief 15 minutes today. At least it felt like it. I was at the doctor to have 11 vials of blood drawn. One last ditch effort to determine what caused Cara's death.

Before going into the lab, I was sitting in the waiting room having a hard time holding it together. All these pregnant women...everywhere...I wanted to scream, "just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you get a baby." It's maddening holding it in. New moms getting congratulations at their first appointment. Moms about to pop. All of them seemed so carefree. I just want to grab them by the shoulders and say enjoy it.

But of course I'm holding all this in, which leads to my bottom lip quivering and my eyes filling with tears. The lab technicians see this and pull me back to a special chair, my throne of the lab. Then they begin scurrying about the lab, reviewing, rereviewing my chart, getting second opinions on the doctor's indecipherable handwriting, offering condolences. I appreciated the special attention. It said to me this time is going to be different.

As I'm leaving, I'm in the elevator with a woman probably in her seventies. She looked at both of my bandaged arms and said, "Well at least you can't say you didn't have blood taken." I said, "I know, 11 vials of blood later I need a cookie or something." To which she asks why I had all that blood taken. (Excuse me, when did people get so nosy?) I said my daughter was stillborn, and they are running some tests. (You get that personal, I'm going to give it right back.) To which she says, well at least they'll know for the next time.

*Sigh* Really? How about just "I'm sorry". Does this time not count? I'm learning so much about life through all of this.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mother's Day

For weeks I have been dreading Mother's Day. I kept thinking in my head, "Why does Hallmark get to create holidays?" I wanted to petition them to start a day for mothers who had lost children.

But then I started researching the origin of Mother's Day. It started in the 16th century with the tradition that adult children would journey back to their mother's church once a year.

I started to think about my church experience and where Cara fit into this. As we gather around the communion table, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ with the hope that those who have gone before us are also gathered there with us. I believe Cara on Sunday will take part in the ancient tradition of returning to her mother's church. She will be with me as I come forward to receive Christ's body broken for me. She has already completely received the brokenness of his body and is waiting joyfully for the day we will be reunited.

Words from my childhood..."bring them and all the departed into the light of your Kingdom as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ...Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Blanket of Mourning

I did not give much thought to horse racing until two years ago almost to the day, May 20, 2006. We were having dinner at my uncle's house. After a week at the beach, Tim and I stopped at his house on our long journey back home.

We were watching the Kentucky Derby when Barbaro false started and broke three bones in his hind leg. I'll never forget watching the way he carried his leg, moving it constantly in pain. My heart hurt so badly for him. It was at that point I vowed never to watch horse racing again.

Fast forward two years later, May 3, 2008. We were once again at his hous. It was the same family members gathered as before. I was sitting in the kitchen talking with my cousin, aunt and mom. Tim went and sat with my uncle in the living room. He is in his 90's and still runs the family farm. He's a quiet man of few words. However, I could hear him and Tim talking about Cara. I wanted Tim to enjoy that moment with him, so I stayed in the kitchen.

After a few minutes, I heard the Kentucky Derby come on the TV. For certain at that moment, I was not going in the next room. Dinner was ready, but we sat and waited for Tim and my uncle to join us. Something was interesting enough that it required the huge Vizio TV in the kitchen to be turned on in order for dinner to proceed with everyone there. (Yes, he is an old man in an old farmhouse, but he does have nicer TVs than we'll ever own. I guess that's one guilty pleasure you can allow yourself when your eyes and hearing start to go.)

And there it was...another horse, Eight Belles, lying broken on the track about to be euthanized. She had come in second and collapsed. My heart hurt for her instantly. I thought about my own life, how I was running a race with all of my friends. I was the last one of all of them to have a baby. They passed the finish line, victorious, receiving their blanket of roses. I passed the finish line, only to collapse in a heap after giving birth. The very life knocked out of me. I knew Eight Belles's pain.

I'll get up. I have tried, but I still fall back in a lifeless mound. My race has stopped; theirs is still going strong.

I talked to another mother today who lost a child four years ago to stillbirth. She, a woman of faith, said people will tell you that time heals, it doesn't. I asked if it dulls the pain. She said I wish I could tell you that it did, but it doesn't. There are still times when the pain is going to be very real even years later.

And so this is blanket that I must carry. Not a blanket of roses, but a blanket of mourning covered over my broken spirit.