Saturday, November 24, 2007

Miracles




Don't get me wrong about miracles. We've had our own here. My third child was born emergency c-section. The cord prolapsed and we rushed into the operating room for delivery. The nurse couldn't feel the pulse in the cord. I was put under general anesthesia, not knowing if my baby had died or would live. And when I woke up she was fine. But before that, she had had to be resuscitated. My husband hadn't even been allowed in the delivery room, and it was quite the intense moment. But there was relief in that moment, because she has now even grown into the years of accountability. She is truly a miracle!

Another child had a potentially fatal illness that went undiagnosed for three months, and typically proceeds to such severe complications in that amount of time that death is expected. He has recovered (though is still quite weak). That he didn't die prior to diagnosis and treatment is quite amazing, especially how small he was and how quickly that illness should have taken over his body. We've had miracles, too!

It is just that those miracles DO bring relief! They lift off the intense concern and worry and aching that you face in those brushes with death. But when the death comes and snatches your little one away, the moment of crisis intensifies. It steals your sense of trust, security, hope, and certainty. You don't know what you can rely on anymore. What is the natural order of things becomes disorderly. Nothing makes sense and there is so much uncertainty.

This is only the beginning. There is a sudden change of routine, and your role that you've become so accustomed to ceases to exist for the rest of this probation. Sure your stewardship as mother goes on through the eternities, but how those responsibilities change in a little instant! You go from adjusting to an expected change to adjusting to such a terribly unexpected change. It is a very real and physical adjustment. The emotional, hormonal, physical changes resulting in the delivery of a baby are still occurring and are amplified, now, with the emotional, hormonal, and physical changes of separation and grief. Of psychological trauma. A very real wound!

I just want to tell everyone what happened, over and over. No one is interested. I want to tell everyone about Bridget and what she meant to me and I what I did for her and how we prayed for her and how desperately I wanted her and loved her as much as I've loved all of our children. How much I have missed all of these years, and miss the presence of our little Dominic in our home, and the love he shared with us here. I miss it all, and I am not only so sad and so desperately longing for their tangible presence, but I'm so uncertain about everything.

Why did they die? What caused their deaths? What we thought was the cause for Dominic's death is all over again in question. And there are some answers for what did not cause their deaths, but not any answers for what did cause their deaths.

Is God unhappy with me?
Did he realize he made a mistake to send them to me?
Did he have pity on them and took them to paradise because they were so miserable with me?
Did my choices in a million different aspects of life somehow directly or indirectly contribute to their deaths (either literally by causing some physical harm that led to their death or due to sin or character problems or weaknesses I have not resolved and can only be "taught" through this "experience" how to overcome those sins or character problems or weaknesses)?
Why did they both have to begin to die on the *EXACT* same day of the week (Saturday) and on the *EXACT* same day of the calendar (September 8th), only separated by six years?
Why were the *BOTH* in *MY* arms, with my breast exposed because they had been nursing on the *EXACT* same side!!?
Why did I not start CPR either time, and what kind of mother am I to not have learned my lesson the first time and not quickly begin CPR when I saw that Bridget was really dying!?
How could I just wander aimlessly asking for help instead of acting as a mother who wants her child to live would act and administer life saving CPR myself?
Why must I go through these experiences?
Why can't my other children grow up with Dominic and Bridget?
Why would God rob them of that experience if he isn't going to rob me of the experience of raising them?
Doesn't God have mercy for my other children, that if they are righteous they could also have the opportunity that was taken away from them?
Is this all just a big joke, and nature is simply just weeding out the weak from among us through natural selection?
What was wrong with them, if that's the case, because no doctor has any explanation of any genetic problem or otherwise and studies before and after death have really shown these two children to be so truly just perfect little beings!?!
And if they are just "too perfect for earth", then when will God be sparing our other children, who are equally as perfect!?
And if we don't know what caused their deaths, then is there some unknown problem that will creep up and steal away my other children or me or my husband much sooner than the natural order of life?

Do you know what it feels like to be so amazingly stunned that this is all happening all over again, and it can't be true!? It can't be real! And you find yourself desperately pleading with God not to let Bridget die, and she died two months ago! It is too late, but you still are pleading, PLEASE DON'T LET BRIDGET DIE, ******PLEASE*****!!! I can't let her die! She can't die! ***PLEASE*** GOD! I really, really, really was so sorry that I had her early, and I'm sorry I was so worried about her dying before she was born that I was grateful when the opportunity for her to come early was offered, and I'm sorry I accepted that chance. But I wept and over and over again told you, God, how terribly sorry I was, and I repeatedly apologized to Bridget and I told her how sorry I was that she had to have that terrible NICU experience all because of my selfishness. ***PLEASE***!! Don't take her away, too!

And I find myself fighting against feeling angry with Dominic for somehow tempting Bridget away from us. I don't want to be angry at him. Never had I felt anger toward him until Sept 8th, 2007, when I was pleading with Bridget to stop listening to him and to come back to us because she just can't die! Please, Bridget!! Don't die!!! **PLEASE**!!!

I know it sounds so irrational and so crazy. Yes, I've been talking with a grief counselor. No, medications wouldn't be a good thing to add to the work my body is already doing in sorting out the natural shifts in chemicals and hormones, and adding one more foreign substance to all of the mix is just going to prolong the time my body needs to adjust. I just have to endure and somehow get through all of this. I just feel very much like the world is under-reacting to the intensity of it all.

I want to go back again to September 8th. I want to take pictures of that half smile Bridget gave me shortly before we left for IKEA. I want to go back to the man in front of the store who was smoking in the family parking area and tell him that he might be hurting my baby with his second hand smoke and that he should have more consideration for other people, especially little helpless babies. I want to go back and tell the cute lady who showed me the nursing room when she saw that I was nursing Bridget in the sling that she was looking at perfection, and to take it in and never forget what beauty she was beholding. I want to take Bridget out of the sling. I want to sit down with her in the nursing lounge, and watch her as she drinks from the breast, and talk to her and sing to her. I don't want to be distracted by all the amazing displays of the world densely pressed into the confines of a windowless world. I only want to see pure holiness and not be so interested in the novelty of material things. I want to watch every last breath that Bridget took on her own, and even if it was God's will that it was to be her last, I want to notice that it was her last breath, and I want to do something to help give her another breath! I want to try to save her and keep her here with me, and to be articulate in asking for the help that I need so that I CAN REALLY GET THE HELP THAT I NEED BEFORE MY BABY DIES!!! HOW DO I ASK FOR HELP THE RIGHT WAY!?

I want the Spirit to confirm to me that she is intended to die. I had such a strong impression as I held her that morning. I felt so strongly that I was told that she was to be a special needs child. I knew her life would need much more involvement from me than what is common for parenting, and I did not hesitate to accept this as the thought poured deeply into my soul. I was at complete acceptance to this understanding, and willing to do what it was going to take. Why did the Spirit lie to me!? Why did the Spirit not confirm to me that this child was NOT going to be a special needs child, but that she would die!? Why as she lay in the hospital dying did the Spirit not tell us to leave our Hope in the Resurrection and accept the will of the Lord? Why were so many blessings of healing offered, and my own Patriarchal Blessing brought to mind again and again and again as we contemplated the dreary prognosis that the doctors kept giving, kept insisting we must accept!? Why, when the prayers even of the First Presidency were offered in our behalf and Bridget's, did the Spirit not reveal her purpose? Do you **KNOW** how Bridget suffered that week while we desperately held to the hope that another miracle was to happen?

Why if she was going to die, why was that necessary for her or for us!? Reliving the same horror we'd been through only six years exactly before, on the same floor of the hospital, with so many familiar faces again -- such sorry and awfully defeated faces -- in that same PICU where death had come to take away Dominic. Why was Bridget there? Why is Bridget not here now!?!?

I want to go back to July 18th. I want to tell the doctor I can endure the preterm labor for as long as it takes for my body to really kick it into gear and make it functional labor. No pitocin. Don't force her out so early. I want to go back to July 3rd. I want to stop my body from bleeding. I want to make it all go away. I want to stop my mind from being so worried, and just be able to submit to the Will of the Lord, and accept whatever it is that is in store. And to cherish all that I could possibly be blessed with, even if it is only those 59 days and those days she had in utero in preparation for her birth. If I could go back and have it all back and do it all over, and not be so very concerned and let that worry overwhelm me so. I want to go back to those ten days in July, in the NICU, and defy the doctors who took away my confidence. And hold my baby when they told me to let her rest to grow stronger. And demand that they follow through with the doctor's orders to place the IV when they had the intensive light therapy for her jaundice. To make sure that she got every bit of colostrum that I had pumped for her, and not let the nurses forget to put it in the freezer for proper preservation. I'd go back and make sure those bands on her feet never scraped into the tops of her feet, leaving such awful sores that literally scarred her for her lifetime. I'd go back and insist that I be allowed to stay at her bedside long before that day I finally prevailed with this wish. That I could have all those minutes and hours back that they took away from me with their "policy" and "procedure" and "protocol".

I can't go back, and I can't go forward. It is all too painful. It is all too pressing. Does *ANYONE* have understanding? My husband is tolerant to the weight that this is on me, but seems less burdened by it all. Is it because I'm burdened more because I have more responsibility for her death? For Dominic's death? If I killed them, even though I know absolutely that I did not intentionally cause them any harm and went out of my way to avoid any harm to come to them, am I guilty of murder? And if so, then am I to be banned from them for the eternities?

I want to go back and hold her sweet little head with my hand again, and her bottom in my other hand. Hold her chest against my chest again. I want to tell her over and over how much I love her, like I did then. I want to sing to her while I try to keep up with the laundry or the dishes or the other household duties the way we did when we were together. I want to remind her how I know I can't get a lot done right now, because there is so much I have to make up to her and my time is for her right now. I want to be able to go back and stop being so interested in politics and thinking somehow that I could make a difference by being involved and being informed, and spend that time instead, invested in Bridget. Why did I have to take her to "Meet the Candidates", when such a fierce storm was raging outside, and expose her as we left from there and got into the car? Did that cause her to become so much weaker and so much more susceptible to all of this?

I can't explain anything to anyone. These are the words I want to speak, but there are no ears to hear them. I know that your sympathies are being abused by me taking the liberties to type this all out, and I have some sense of shame in that. But I also so much want someone to listen, someone to understand. I want the hurt to be lighter. I want the feelings to be acceptable, and my wounds to be attended to. I want the world to see that this trauma is as real as any other severe trauma to the physical being. But because of the psychological nature of it, it is simply overlooked. Or the response is withheld because of concern of saying something wrong or doing the wrong thing, but the silence and the absence of friends just makes this emptiness ever so much deeper! Why does the world withdraw when it what is needed most is for hosts to come in and fill up with all the measure available, the hole so terribly deep in the soul that results from such terrible grief? Of course it is not enough to fill it completely, but it gives a tender weight against the bleeding heart to keep it from bleeding out so quickly so as to cause the soul to collapse in weakness. Helps to sustain through this mortal probation until the Healer of us all can aid the soul through complete recovery.

It's vanity, I fear, to spend all this time in expression. I don't wish to overlook the caring and prayers and kindness and thoughtfulness... It's through those who have been able and willing to give that I am somehow still here. I am staying somewhat "normal". I have not missed teaching my lesson in Relief Society at all since Bridget was born, even after she died. I get out of bed each morning in time to prepare lunches for the kids, say family prayer, get them dressed and out the door. I don't go back to bed, and am doing pretty good keeping on the housework. But I've been so invested in keeping up that I'm having very little opportunity to process through what all this means. And so very few opportunities for my words to even be heard anywhere except into the vastness of eternities as I plead with the Lord and pray to Him throughout the day and night. No one has come long enough to hear what my heart bears and see the tears fall, let alone to be here to dry them. The emptiness just seems so much larger in the absence of understanding friends and family.

Perhaps this is my punishment. To be abandoned when I feel so much that I need the love the most. Perhaps it is my fault that I've intimidated everyone in these years I've been blessed with instead of learning how to bring people to me. I've never learned the social game and felt awkward, and never really been one to be invited into the social groups that form in wards and neighborhoods. I've included myself by participating at a widow's mite, but I suppose this demonstrates it just isn't enough. If you aren't popular enough, your drama or tragedy aren't interesting enough to spend the time...

It can't be that I haven't been there in the hour of need for others, and I'm so sorry to admit that I had hoped that all that I had done out of genuine response to others needs might now be reciprocated in my time of need. Where is everyone? Of course, I didn't do those things then anticipating the need, and that makes it even more frustrating, because I don't *WANT TO NEED THIS*! I just want to be struggling with the adjustment to a newborn who was premature and having a hard time growing. Who has needs that are more time consuming and requiring the care I agreed to give in that moment when the Spirit revealed to me that Bridget would need that. I want that sacrifice and work over this pain. :'(

I don't want to be ungrateful to the Lord, though, for what I had and what I hope to have in the future with Bridget and with Dominic. I don't want to be ungrateful or wish anyone else to have to have this, even when I envy that they don't.

I hope that I haven't misunderstood the Spirit because of my unworthiness. I hope I haven't disappointed the Lord in all that I've been doing with all of this heavy sorrow and grief. I hope I haven't used my little son, Dominic, or my little girl, Bridget, somehow in vain to try to gain sympathies when I should be able to carry this weight on my own. I hope I haven't embarrassed myself too badly, or my family, or the Lord. I want to get through all of this valiantly, but I'm just not sure how.

from my post on a message board for Latter-day Saint parenting, Nov-24 7:46 pm

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