Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Story Part 13

Our Birthdays

Craig and I 12 days apart, his birthday the end of June, my the beginning of July. Our birthdays were rapidly approaching.

The hospital had a support group every 4th Thursday of the month. Even though that landed on Craig's birthday, we agreed it would be wonderful for us to go. They required reserving the spot, which I did online. I didn't want to call the number. I didn't want to call some random secretary on the phone and say "Yes. I would like to attend one of your support groups. The one for people with dead babies. Thanks."

The day of the support group, I received a call from the social worker saying we were the only people to state they were coming. We were still welcome to, but....she trailed off. I got it. I understood. No point in wasting her day. I said, it was fine. She asked what happened and I briefly stated it. She launched into some social worker type stuff about grief and I cut her off.

"I get it. I have a social work degree too. I know exactly what you are going to say. Have you been through a loss?"

"Well, no. But..."

"No, I know what you are going to say. I have had all that training too. I was just hoping for some help, to meet other couples. I am fine. I have women online I talk to for support. I have support like crazy, I just wanted something for my husband. He doesn't have the support I do. "

And I hung up.

What I stated was 100% correct. I had (have) an amazing group of women online that I met during my wedding planning and pregnancy with Curtis. When we lost him, they all felt it too. A lot of them pregnant around the time I was. I then found a grief board where women with stillbirths came together and posted. I truly felt like I had support. But I knew Craig and I needed something as a couple.

So I was pissed. Here we stuck our necks out, and it felt like our heads got chopped off.

Honestly, I think Craig was glad. We spent his 31st birthday at a restaurant, drinking beer, and watching baseball. The way he would have originally liked.

It would be a long time before I involved us in a support group. And it was worth the wait. It was the group and the organization that helped get my daughter here alive and well.

With my birthday looming, so was my return to work. I became extremely nervous. I had become accustomed to my nice little cocoon of sitting in my house, cuddling with my dog, and chatting online. I preferred it. I enjoyed it. The only person I had to please was myself. Money wasn't an issue. Some wonderful, generous, person at my work donated me all of their sick time. I actually returned to work with a week of time off left. Who can take 5 weeks off and have that happen? I never was able to find out who did that, but I am forever grateful.

Craig's grandmother's birthday is the day after mine. She was turning 90 that year and plans had been in the works for 6 months of a huge 90th birthday bash. Relatives were coming in from out of state. A huge catered lunch had been planned. It was suppose to be a fun filled weekend of Craig's cousins and extended family.

This side of the family wasn't around when I was pregnant. They lived out of state. We didn't hear from them after our loss. Curtis was merely a blip on their radar before they came out. That made a few things that happened that weekend so difficult.

Like one of Craig's cousins sitting down next to me and talking with my sister in law. (My sister in law has young daughters and the cousin had older children). The cousin starts going on about kids and how each stage is fun, how as they grow up and become their own people she falls more and more in love with her children. Each stage she loves because each stage shows her how she made the right choice becoming a mom.

Another one of Craig's cousins saying they went through something similar. A miscarriage early in a pregnancy. Not that miscarriages aren't hard (as you will see in a future post) but it is different than a 40 week stillbirth. Trust me.

Then that same night they were putting together poster board of pictures, one of which was all the great grand kid pictures. One cousin's wife gets exasperated and says "Dang it! We need more great grand kids. We don't have enough pictures."

I have to walk out of the house that time.

Another time during the weekend, my sister in law was talking to me about special needs children and said "I think that would be the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent."

Yeah? Really? Try having your kid die.

I work with special needs kids. Do I think for a second the parents have it easy? No. I see the grief and heartache these parents go through. I do not know what it is like to live with it. But I do see the parent's eyes light up when their child says I love you. I see their eyes light up when their non vocal child laughs for the first time. I think those moments count a lot.

So, as I am standing outside, Craig comes out. He wraps his arms around me and we just stand there.

We should have a 4 week old. We shouldn't even be at this house, this time of night. It would be too hard with a tiny baby. We start talking how awesome it would have been to have an "excuse" like that to get out of family functions.

I tell him what our sister in law said about kids with special needs. Craig cocks his head, looks at me and says "Heck, I would take a kid with three eyes! I mean, I would take him to the doctor a lot...."

Craig. He can always make me laugh even at one of my worst moments. Even when I don't want to laugh. Even when it annoys me.

So, on my 31st birthday, I spent the day at a Mass and at a party for Craig's grandma. It was hard. Not that it was my birthday, but that I should have a baby boy in my arms. I should have dressed him in the plaid overalls and white button up shirt I had already picked out for the party. I should be exhausted for very different reasons.

Later that night, one of Craig's cousins, a few sheets to the wind, started asking about Curtis. Grateful to talk, the story tumbled out of us. He was 6lbs, 10oz. Looked like a sleeping baby. 100% normal. Nothing was wrong with him. Craig's nose. Totally. She held our hands, sobbed, and said over and over how sorry she was. How she didn't realize before. She talked to our father in law, and stated the same thing to him. To this day, she remains one of my favorites. For taking the time to learn about Curtis, to asking about him during the weekend. For letting us share him.

We drove home late that night. As we pulled into our driveway, there was Happy Birthday sign outside our little yard. My parents. Flowers on the counter. It was very sweet. They were trying to go to extra lengths to make the day something to remember.

We came in, and Craig gave me my birthday present. Emerald stone butterfly necklace and earrings. Emeralds being Curtis' birthstone. I ran my finger over the pretty stones with a sad smile. They were beautiful. Exactly what I would have picked out for myself.


Cara said...

What the world can do to us without realizing their slaying our very soul is really scary.

I know their ignorance, and on some level I am grateful for it because I don't wish this pain on anyone, but truly - it is just too much.

You mention experience with support groups. I am starting one up here in conjunction with our local hospital and could use some input, what works, what didn't work, etc.

May I email you the full proposal (as I am trying to be a catylyst for change in other areas as well) and get your feedback? I represent a DMB, but I had a CB nurse give me feedback from a nurse's perspective. Would you be willing to look it over from the social worker's perspective?

Kristi said...

Wow, I can't imagine having to deal with all of that.

This may be a poor comparison but I'm wondering if you felt this way: Whenever someone close to me has died unexpectedly I feel like I HAVE to know why... it's like I'm driven. Its almost like in the back of my mind I feel like if I can figure it out then I can fix it. Of course, I KNOW I can't fix it but... oh hell, I don't know what I'm trying to say.

Anonymous said...

Big, big hugs.
You've gone through so, so much - you must be one strong lady!!


Sara said...

Sending you all the ((hugs)) you should have had that day...

Sally said...

I'm still following your story. Crying along with it. It's amazing how fragile we become hey after our losses. Just the smallest things set us off. Although those people who said those things to you clearly were not thinking AT ALL! Some people really have no idea.

Sara said...

I saw your comment on Angie's blog tonight, but wanted you to know that even before I got to it, you were in the forefront of my mind. Sending prayers for you and yours.