Sunday, January 16, 2011

The One I Wish I Didn't Have To Write....


To quote John, "There's something especially cruel about going to buy flowers for your dead baby son's grave to celebrate the birth of his brother."

I wholeheartedly agree.

I'm sure I won't even begin to cover what is going on in my mind, nor what has been since Luke was born. There's just too much, and the emotions and feelings are just too complicated and intertwined for me to be able to do more than just get them out, much less be articulate in doing so. We figured that the attempt, at the very least, would give me more 'cry about it' opportunity, and there's not much more than that than we can think of me doing to work through it all.

I should preface by saying I feel a horrendous amount of guilt in these feelings. (I know, what's new?) Seriously, though, when I have this sweet little face to love on and hug on, I realize this might verge on the edge of whining and some who read may feel that I am not nearly as grateful as I should be....I just feel like there are some topics that are not really talked about--with regard to having a healthy, living and breathing child after one has lost a baby--like the fact that the world sort of seems to expect you to all of a sudden be so overjoyed with the blessing you have been given, you are magically healed of the hurt you've been going through up to this point.

It doesn't.

Or, that the blessing of another child who so strongly resembles the child who died is also such a strong, strong reminder of what you'll never see grow in that lost little one.

Or, what you imagined you lost (because you never even got to hold him) in your first child just throbs inside of you and makes your heart hurt almost as much as it did when he died because you now know (sort of) the reality of what you lost and it's a million times worse than you've ever imagined. You realize you didn't even have a clue.

At least I didn't. I guess I figured that I'd lost more and more deeply than anyone, even John, because it was ME who carried Matthew...ME who kept him alive and felt every little kick and jab and knew his personality more than ANYONE ever could. I lost more than anyone, and I pretty much felt like there was nothing I could imagine that would be worse than my feelings.

I figured that all the lost hope and dreams were just about the worst thing I could ever imagine losing. No one but me could know those as intimately and with my perspective but me.

Until I was able to hold Luke. And feel what his soft little body felt like in my arms...what every inch of his skin feels like and not just his shoulder and cheek. Until I was able kiss him and tell him I loved him and know he heard me...to be able to tell him that I would take care of him and let nothing happen to him...to drink in the smell of his little neck and every nuance of every stretch he makes.

Until all of that...and so much more...I guess I just really had no idea of how much I could miss Matthew.

I just had no frame of reference, save my imagination, for what those things felt like...and how desperately, desperately, desperately I still want to be able to have those things with Matthew too.

I've cried more in the last few days over how much my heart hurts than I have in months. I told John it's sort of like I'm losing Matthew all over again--realizing now what joy there is in all that is Luke--and knowing it will not be with Matthew.

It's hard.

Dr. Polko, God LOVE her, said they'd been concerned this might be...especially with Luke looking so much like Matthew...and is keeping an eye on the PTSD aspect. Right now, we are still in the normal 'Baby Blues' stage--where it is completely appropriate to cry because the Target cashier tells you to "Have a nice day," just in response to all the hormones one has raging through.

There's certainly not a concern about postpartum depression right now either--Luke is the highlight of our day and I can't imagine functioning for any other reason right now but to tend to his every need and want. He is doted on, fussed over and loved upon pretty much from the time I open my eyes to the time I close them.

Dr. Polko was very adamant in differentiating PTSD from Baby Blues or Postpartum...and more where I am these days. I am constantly having flashbacks to the days we lost Matthew...more the day, I guess...and the pictures (all I have, really) that we have from that time. There are times when John is holding Luke that I will literally have to tell myself to breathe (sound familiar?) because the reality I am looking at so closely matches the pictures of John holding Matthew as he died...after Matthew died....I hold Luke and snuggle him and literally just cry thinking about what would happen to my heart if I had to give him back too. I can't imagine it.

And that then leads me to John...and how unbelievably difficult it must have been for John to have that with Matthew--a sweet, precious little miracle right there in his arms...and he had to watch him take his last breath.

And give him back to the nurses.

And leave him there.

By himself.

I've always appreciated what John did that night for our son...but I never, ever could have imagined how hard that had to have been. In my most vivid of vivid imaginings, I couldn't come close.

Until now...and that's just barely....because the reality is that Luke is healthy and happy and fine. There is no reason to believe that he would be anything different, and so even though I now have a bit different perspective of just what John lost that night, it's still tempered with the joy I have in a sweet smile Luke gives, or a little wiggle he makes...John didn't even have that.

So....like I said, I am sure this doesn't even hit the surface of what I am trying to put words to, but it's something. I'm trying to sleep when Luke is sleeping, but again, flashbacks and heartache make it hard to sleep. Working on that...I'll go back in a week and see how things are and John and I will continue to see our grief counselor for a bit, especially since it seems there's a whole new dimension to grief we are now dealing with and which we never expected.

They tell you how healing a new baby is. They tell you how joy will fill your heart again. They tell you that there's nothing like God's grace in a newborn life with which you are entrusted.

That's all true.

They just don't tell you how all of that makes you realize, again and even more deeply, if possible, what you lost in that precious child you never get to raise.

And how much that hurts.

Still praising God for my boys...and so grateful for the love and prayers and support of so many. I finally got to look at my email and FB messages today...over 2400!! There's no way I can get to all of them, but here I can at least say how thankful for them we are. There's just something about knowing you are covered in prayers and good wishes and love that really lifts one up in an indescribable way. My cup runneth over.

Now...off to a bath. For Luke, that is. He liked it at the hospital so we'll see how it goes here!

More sweetness....

I'm wearing ANOTHER hat?


Mommy thinks I wear 12 days old pretty well. And look, I found a paci!



37 comments:

  1. Lori, I think this might be one of my favorite posts you've ever written. I think I ended up reading the whole thing to Paul once I started. Much of what you write, I've been anticipating, and what you write helps me mentally prepare just a bit more.

    Your family is beautiful, and the photo of Matthew's spot and Luke is such a precious part of your - and their - story.

    And those hats are too cute!

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  2. I've read your story for a long time now, and your way of putting things into words has always touched my heart, but this one has be bawling! I can't imagine the feelings that you are having and how they are conflicting! Sending you and John, Matthew and Luke so much love!

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  3. Not weird hats, adorable hats.. I love them all!!!

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  4. Oh Lori, he's beautiful!

    Matthew's headstone is perfect. Very little boyish but not at the same time.

    I get the buying flowers for Matthew to celebrate Luke. First stop for us after next baby is born will be to see big brother Evan and have a similar photo taken.

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  5. Lori

    This is a very Genuine post. I love it. I think you are so right and just telling what you feel will help you pass these days. However, Luke will always make you remember Mathew now and forever. I lost my second child so from day one after my loss I cried and cried because I recalled all the nice and lovely moments I had with my first child and I knew I would never have them with my second one in this life. Now it happens that whenever my oldest child develops a new ability or achives a milestone I just feel my tears dropping out, because I know I lost those moments. Yes it is hard, but is part of a very long long and complex grief. Hugs and kisses. BTW, Luke is a prince!

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  6. Amen! *tears* Amen!

    This is exactly how I felt after loosing Isaiah. I had the three older boys at the time. So when his heart stopped beating, my heart knew how deep the loss. When my doctor told me that I had to be induced........well you can only imagine having to take the life of one of your other children. It's been an absolute nightmare, or living hell, to say the very least.

    I'm sure that you haven't read my newest post, but I have been really struggling again with the way Isaiah died.

    It's called a journey for a reason, there are so many paths to travel.

    Love you and your precious family.

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  7. Thank you for being so honest..
    I don't "know" you, but your words touch me..
    I'm so sorry for your pain and so happy for you. Luke is sooo precious and tiny and perfect. He was blessed with wonderful parents. :-)
    Sending prayers up for you.

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  8. I did wonder about that. Not in too much detail, because I think it could drive a person crazy, but I wondered what it would all be like when you got to hold Luke and wonder ... what would this moment with Matthew have been like? I think that's why grief really is such a process that stretches out the distance of our lives. Because there is always something new to question or be curious about. Something we never saw coming, but still takes our breath away just the same. And since your first experience in motherhood, although similar to some people's stories, was completely unique and only yours, there's no way to ask someone what thing will pop up next to grab at your heart and force the tears from your eyes. It hurts to look at that first picture and know that you never got to hold that tiny, perfect little body in your arms ... it's cruel to think that such a bitty thing could be buried there. Don't worry if people don't understand where your thoughts are coming from ... it matters a very little and I think it's abundantly more important for you to feel it all and grieve it all so your heart can continue to stitch itself up around the permanent Matthew hole through it's center.
    You all look great and I love all the clothes Luke wears. He's one stylish little man. Take all the love and prayers and feel them lifting you up. xoxo

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  9. Thank you for putting it out there Lori and being "real" about it! I am so, so worried about the conflicting feelings when Amelia arrives. I have conflicting feelings now! I have guilt for what what would have been and what will be. These feelings are true and so real and my friend, you are not alone! You love Matthew...you love Luke...You grieve Matthew...You snuggle Luke. It is the most difficult thing imaginable. Then you throw post partum in there! Praying for you mama!

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  10. Wow you really know how to nail it down and describe what it's like and you do it so well. I wish rainbows could take away the hurt but I know it's not true. Hugs

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  11. I have a picture eerily similar to the one at the top of your post. There's something just not right about having to take a picture like this. I love Luke's hats! Jenna has quite a hat collection to, but she hates them and screams bloody murder when I put them on her. :-)

    I have had a lot of the same feelings that you have had. You just did a much better job of putting it all into words! It's not something that anyone should have to put into words. Ever. Sending you much love...and many hugs. And lots of hugs for Luke, too. :-)

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  12. The "should have beens" must be so very difficult. Saying prayers, as always but bumped up several notches, for comfort, strength, and peace.

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  13. ...because I don't have many words in this season of my life, what you shared is what I have been anticipating...Thank you for being honest and real...

    Praying for you...

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  14. Glad you are continuing to get so much emotional support.

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  15. I love that you share your heart. You have, and will continue to be, in my daily thoughts and prayers.

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  16. I have been praying about this very thing for you guys. I can't imagine how bittersweet each day is. Love you both and praying more!

    Can't wait to come see that little squirt!

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  17. I have been waiting for this post.... as we are expecting this new life after losing our Luke just six months ago. I often think about the raw emotions of what it will be like to hold a new baby while missing my first one. Thank you for being real and honest.

    Btw, I think there is something about the name Luke that just makes a baby 100 times cuter! :)

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  18. Hi Lori !

    Oh how I hate grief !
    It gets to you in the most unexpected ways.
    I can only imagine what you feel but when I try to imagine ,it breaks my heart .
    Life is so strange .
    So sorry you have to feel like this ,oh how complicated life is sometimes ....
    I will pray for peace for you and the power to accept your feelings with peace.
    I believe all you feel is normal .
    I hope God will help you to carry all the contradictions and the sadness.

    Luke is so sweet and you look great too !
    Love Angie

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  19. I was just saying something about this to Mary on Saturday....The sweet joy of Luke with the sadness of Matthew at the same time. The realization of how strong your wonderful husband has been- just more proof that he is a keeper! I love you and look forward to getting to chat someday soon.

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  20. Beautiful, honest post. I can't imagine the feelings and emotions invoked by having your rainbow baby, it's impossible to not think back to your previous loss and also feel sadness at Matthew's absence. Be gentle with yourself and continue to surround yourself with those who love and care about you.
    Love the hat, it's adorable and you are correct Luke wears 12 days incredibly well!

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  21. I still have these feelings. I really never knew what we lost until Blake arrived. About a week into his life it hit me. I also struggle with Blake's loss. He lost his brothers, and he doesn't even know it. I think all of these feelings are normal, but difficult for sure. You are still Matthew's mother, and it is normal to miss Matthew. It is just so hard.
    Big hugs for you dear. I know exactly how those feelings are. So bittersweet.

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  22. Lori, I think you did a wonderful job putting your thoughts into words. My eyes were glued to the screen. Oh, how I've missed reading your blog. I have been out of the blogging loop for a while.

    Thank you for describing what it's like to have a baby after a loss. I guess it gives me a new perspective on it. I've been so rushed to find a husband so I can have another baby because for some reason, I've thought that would make it all better. But, it won't.

    Your words get more beautiful by the post...you are a rare treasure indeed.

    Love you and Luke and Matthew.

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  23. I don't know how I haven't found your blog before now. Someone directed me to this post after seeing some of my recent posts...about missing my daughter, and yet anticipating the hopeful birth of her younger brother...How conflicting that is. And here you are, explaining what I feel to some degree already, and imagine I will experience more of perhaps. I appreciate your honesty, and sharing. Thank you.
    Luke is wonderful, and remembering Matthew.

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  24. You've expressed this so beautifully! I've been seeing the same things for the last few years but from the opposite perspective since my older kids lived and the younger ones died. Each sweet moment with my kids is such a joy, but also sad because I'll never share these times with my younger boys.

    Luke is so sweet. Every picture is just adorable.

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  25. ((((LORI))))

    Your words, confusion, pain, and heart ache are a mirror reflection of my own.

    Almost 2 years later and the flashbacks are as clear as they were the day everything happened. And then the day I held Zac as he passed away, never to grow up with his twin brother.

    You are right...people don't talk about the confusion of joy and pain...but sadly those of us who walk that line understand all too well.
    Honestly, there are days where I feel more alone than I can handle...and many friends who just vanished. I suppose they figure either I'm all better, or they are just tired of hearing someone needing to talk.

    Your photo of Luke beside Matthew's grave is also one that I have of Evan beside Zac's...a photo that should never exist in our albumn.

    I know the amazing love and joy you feel and have for Luke. That is natural, and precious.
    However, I also know the feeling of guilt and sadness and confusion you have over Matthew...
    So many times I've tried to articulate and write what it means to me having lost a child and bring home a surviving twin...and really, there are days where there are just no words.
    I remember a post of yours to me a while back how you notice that I seem to apologize a lot for the sadness I have over Zac and that I justify my sorrow and my joy and reassure people of my love for Evan through my pain...
    I wish you didn't have to experience the same confusion. I wish Matthew and Luke were both in your arms.

    The firsts with Luke will always remind you of the firsts that never got to be with Matthew. And it's difficult.
    You will feel that unbelievable love for Luke, and then that deep sorrow of missing Matthew...and that's okay. It's only natural.

    I have been praying for you, because I know how hard it is to walk between pure joy, and pure sorrow.

    I'm glad your doctor is watching you. But don't feel bad when you have a down moment and when there are tears shed. They will happen. Mine still do...and I know they always will.

    I still hold to the thought of Matthew looking down with such pride and joy at his little brother, and the day you will all reunite.

    Love you girl! Praying for you all always!

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  26. Oh, and the comment above where I said "what you shared is what I have been anticipating.." was about me and what I am anticipating in my situation and not about your situation. Hope you realized that that was what I meant=)...

    Hugs...

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  27. UM ~ I have the exact same hat from ETSY! And I was about to send it to you for baby LUKE! Guess he is fine in the hat and accessories dept:) Good thing I just read this, LOL

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  28. i know exactly how you feel...xoxo

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  29. What a wonderful post! I think what you said is right...now seeing Luke makes the loss of Matthew happen all over again.
    But has given you a chance to see this process from the perspective of your wonderful husband. His strength (and yours) is amazing.
    Luke is absolutely precious in those hats. Keep on putting them on him!
    Take care. I'm glad the dr is watching you...and that you're aware it can happen too.

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  30. Lori:

    I have followed your blog for something like 2 years now. Matthew's passing incredibly sad, and I prayed for you and John then. I have been following Luke's arrival with great hope for what it would mean to you and John, but also with a strange awe that it had to mean things that would hurt in some ways, because of what you lost with Matthew's death. I am yet more awed that you can write about it in such human terms.

    And I can only hope that that will help other families in the same situation know they are not alone in the joy of one child's birth being mingled with grief at the loss of another.

    Kathy W

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  31. Hi! I left you a blogger award: http://mjsmemories.blogspot.com

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  32. Thanks, Friend. I needed to read that today. Loves to you all.

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  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  34. What had happened to Matthew and you...It was so unfair...I don't think one could ever understand that. My granny lost her first child many years ago. Now she is 99, and she still remembers and misses her first-born daughter...All this is very sad. I'd like to help you, but I just don't know how to...what words could help...

    Lory, I'm so sorry. Hold on...

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  35. Wow.. Reading the last post.. It just brought tears to my eyes.
    Glad i stumbled upon this blog..
    and the hats are adorable :)..

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  36. Often anticipating/imagining/wondering/dreaming about something hypes it up so much that the actual event (good or bad) doesn't quite meet expectations. So wishing that could (somehow) be the case for you, now that you're forced to face knowing, exactly, what life with a newborn Matthew would've been like and how much you all missed out on.

    Sharpened grief, indescribable joy, postpartum hormones, and lack of sleep all mixed up...good thing you have Luke to squeeze and kiss when things just don't seem to make any sense these days. "The only way around is through," it is said...always praying as you continue along this journey.

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  37. It isn't right to have to take your newborn child to the cemetery to see their sibling. You should never have to do that. It was very bittersweet for me. I was so happy to have Lainey but my heart still ached and continues to ache for my Carleigh.

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