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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The New Normal

My last bump picture. This was taken the day before Caroline was born.
The day before my life changed forever. 

    I found this poem today, and I just wanted to share. This is my life now. It will never be the same. Day after day I am reminded of this simple fact. Nothing will ever be the same. Gone is the carefree life I once lived. Gone is the stress I used to feel over the little things in life. Those things that once seemed so difficult and that I wanted to avoid, are now overshadowed by this dark and empty void. I will never be normal.
    I had a really honest talk with a very special person yesterday, and it has stayed in my mind. Once you experience a loss so great, you will never be the same person you were before. Your life is forever changed.
        There are things you can no longer do...
Going shopping is so incredibly difficult for me. Not only do you see the looming baby aisles, filled with all those perfect pink frilly clothes I want to buy so badly, but I also see pregnant moms and newborn babies. I see the magazines in the checkout line with headlines proclaiming celebrity baby bumps and newborn pictures. That should be me. I should be taking Caroline grocery shopping. I should be buying her all those adorable summer baby clothes. I should be in the checkout line smiling at the happiness of others. But I can only look away from those things for so long, I try to avoid them, to tune them all out. Yet it does not help. The pain enters into my heart. It becomes so real that I can feel it sitting tight in my throat. I cannot talk, in fact, it is hard to even walk. So I leave. I leave my groceries behind, and as I walk to my car the tears begin to fall. It becomes more than I can bear. Too many memories, too many lost dreams. But you learn, you learn how to cope. I now go to Meijer early, so early in the morning. Everyone else is still fast asleep. Now I can push my cart down the empty and silent aisles. I can completely avoid the baby aisles. I can check out quickly and not have to wait in line. I can actually get my groceries out to the car, and not shed a tear. I have learned how to cope. It is a new normal.
     There are things I can no longer look at...
We have a room filled with baby things, that are now hidden from my eyes. A room that should be filled with smiles, baby smells, and tiny little clothes, is only dark and closed. We talk about cleaning it out. But we can't. I just can't touch that handle. I cannot open that door. When we found out in February that we would not be bringing our baby home, I scooped up all of the baby things that we had scattered around the house, and I piled them in that room. It should have been HER room. Those should have been HER things. But I put them away, and I have never looked back. I cannot go in that room. I cannot look at those things. It is a new normal.
       There are songs I cannot sing...
Each morning and evening, I would sing to Caroline while she was still inside. The song we would always sing is Jesus Loves Me. It is such a beautiful song, and it has such a beautiful promise. I held on to that promise during those 35 weeks we had together, "Little Ones To Him Belong". My Caroline has always belonged to Jesus, right from the very first day she was formed. When I sang that song to her, I knew it had so much more meaning than ever before. I knew that she would be with Jesus soon, and singing that song reminded me of that beautiful promise. Caroline belonged to Jesus, and she will always belong to Jesus. She is now safe in His arms forever. I still hold onto that promise each day as my heart longs for her. But singing that song is so difficult. Because now I must sing it alone. The only time I sing this song is when I am sitting beside her grave. I sing it to her each time before I leave. The words still hold the same promise to me as they did before. But now I cannot sing it to my sweet baby as I rock her in my arms, I can only sing it to her memory that is deep inside my heart. It is a new normal.
       There are memories in everything that I do...
Every time I cook or bake, it reminds me of how we used to do it together. Every time I get in the car, it reminds me of all the places we went together. Every time I get dressed, the clothes that I wore while I was pregnant taunt me. Every time I look around our house, I am reminded of how she should be here. Every time I lay in bed, I remember her moving and wiggling around to remind us that she was there. Everything in our house holds a memory. Everything that I do reminds me of her. You see, it is different when you lose a baby. When you get to take your baby home, you get to make new memories. The memories of being pregnant are overshadowed by the memories you are making each day with your sweet little baby. But for me, those memories are all I have left. I do not see them as only a moment in time. Those memories are everything to me, the only connection I have left to my baby. I will never get to make new memories with her. So instead I must hold on to the ones I have been given. Some of the memories are good, and they bring a joyful smile to my face. Some memories bring painful tears to my eyes, as I desperately wish to go back. It is not the same as before. I will always have those memories, the good ones and the painful ones. But loving her is worth it all. I am learning how to cope. I am learning how to handle the memories. I am learning that life is not the same. It never will be the same now that she is gone. My life is forever changed.
     There are dates that I wish we could skip...
Each month that goes by is not a milestone. It is not something to celebrate. It does not hold a special day. There will not be pictures of my one month old, two month old, six month old. We will not have pictures of her first smile, her first laugh, her first steps. We won't have pictures of her first birthday party, or her fifth. Even the thought of the upcoming holidays just makes me want to cry. I want to skip those dates. I want to skip them all. I can't bear the 17th day of each month. I can't bear the thought of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years without her here. If I could skip those dates I would do it in a heartbeat. Those days I wish so badly I could look forward to, but now they only bring deep pain and anxiety. Last year during the holidays, I was beyond excited, and could not wait to enjoy those special days and moments with her. But now it will have to be a new normal. The holidays will never be the same. The 17th day of the month will never be the same. I will learn how to cope. But she will never be here to celebrate, and so it will never ever be normal.
     The innocence I once held is gone...
I now know that there is a very real reality that bad things do happen. We cannot just walk through life thinking that it is going to be easy to have a family. Ask me a year ago, and I would not have had any concerns or worries. But I have now experienced a loss so great that it has completely changed my life. As I have said before, nothing in my life will ever be the same. I am a completely different person.This reality is something that no one can truly understand until you have had your hopes and dreams stripped away.
     These are only a few of the ways that my life had changed. I could continue to write for days about how my life has changed. Each day is another day that this becomes painfully real. It never gets easier, in fact, with each day that goes by the pain and heartbreak only intensify. But the truth is, you learn how to cope. You learn how to get through events, moments, and days without feeling or thinking. You learn how to hide on the outside what your heart is screaming from the inside. You learn how to hold back the tears. You learn how to act and look normal.
    It is so sad, to think that you must hide. It is so sad, to think that you must try and make people believe that everything is okay. It is so sad, to think that you must act like you are back to normal. But that is the sad reality of going through a loss. You have to keep moving forward. You have to find ways to cope. I am not the same person as I was before. I am no longer the carefree and innocent person I was before. That is my new normal.

The doctor told us it was time to go. We were about to meet our baby
for the first time! Smiling through the contractions! 

Our last family picture with our sweet Caroline still safe inside.
Mommy and Daddy could not wait to meet her!

The New Normal

'This is now what "normal" is...
Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realise someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.
Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or birthday party... yet feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers and see the casket.
Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.
normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.
Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head constantly.
Normal is having TV on the minute you walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
Normal is staring at every baby who looks like he is my baby's age. And thinking of the age they would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it because it will never happen.
Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.
Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet not realising it has become part of my 'normal'.
Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and their birthday and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really.
Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special my baby loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it.
Normal is having people afraid to mention my baby.
Normal is making sure others remember them.
Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.
Normal is weeks, months and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.
Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your child is unnatural.
Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it.
Normal is realising I do cry everyday.
Normal is disliking jokes about death or funerals, bodies being referred to as cadavers, when you know they were once someone's loved one.
Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone, but someone stricken with grief over the loss of your child.
Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.
Normal is feeling a common bond with friends on the computer in other countries, but yet never having met any of them face to face.
Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.
Normal is not listening to people who make excuses for God. 'God may have done this because...' I love God, I know that my baby isn't on earth, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why babies are taken from this earth is
not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.
Normal is being to tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.
Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have two children or one, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby isn't here on earth. And yet when you say I have 1 child
to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as it you betrayed your baby.
Normal is avoiding playgrounds because of small, happy children that break your heart when you see them.
Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.
And last of all, Normal is all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal"

- author unknown

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