Today

I have been having a difficult time the past few days.

Of the [quite a few] women I know who have recently had a baby, almost all of them have returned to work. Their Facebooks have been full of baby pictures and messages of regret in having to leave their child in order to return to work.

These messages upset me. I mean, at least they have a baby to leave. I don’t have my baby at all. But even that thought right there – the one that came unbidden – makes me feel horrible. Am I being harsh and unjust to these other mothers when they are just bragging about their beautiful new babies? And does this mean I am ungrateful for what I already have?

Am I cherishing my other children less because I cannot cherish their sibling enough? I find myself torn sometimes in moments of joy because I think about the one who will never participate in these moments with us. Will that always be the case? I know they say things will get better with time, but as I have no experience with the death of a close loved one, I just can’t help but feel that I am forever altered.

As my OCD has been exacerbated in these stressful and painful last few months, I find myself withdrawing from things I do want to do/participate in as an effort to avoid my triggers. CJ and I keep talking about things we would like to do once I reach what we refer to as my “baseline,” but I’m worried that may not be the same anymore. And I don’t know how to cope with that. I don’t want to become a recluse who stops living their life and not doing things they enjoy. I want to feel the desire to play, write, even just be helpful around the house.

Before, my bad days were few and far between. Now, as there have been so many gathered together, it’s hard to see that it won’t always be like this. It’s difficult sometimes to convince myself to continue pushing through. But I am a strong woman. I am intelligent and occasionally, kind of funny. I will try my best to keep smiling until the day where it’s not pretend anymore. Starting today.

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Dear Riley

Today is your due date. But you’re not here.

As I was early with all your siblings, I assume you would have been here by now. So all I can think about this cold, rainy morning is how all of us would be bundled up and snuggling, enjoying the fullness of our family.

Instead, today I will be visiting you elsewhere. I will go to the little plot where the grass has just begun to grow. Where instead of family, you are surrounded by other stillborns and children gone too soon. And instead of holding you, I will miss you.

But remember, my Riley – I will hold you in my heart, until I can hold you in my arms.

All my love,
Mom

My insomnia has been the boss of me the past week or so. It’s hard to accomplish anything when you’re operating under a caffeine fueled fog. CJ has been majorly supportive even though I know he’s been really frustrated. I was doing really well with sleep for a while, but the closer we come to the baby’s due date (October 12th), the more trouble I have. I think the earliest I’ve gone to bed in the past few days was three in the morning. This past Friday into Saturday, I didn’t go to bed until six Saturday morning. No matter what I tried doing, nothing could settle me enough for sleep.

My hope is that if I push though these next few days, even though that one day will be catastrophic, everything will be better afterwards.

On a brighter note, Q is a rockstar. I firmly believe children need to be able to test their limits. I don’t hover on the playground or in the backyard. I will occasionally remind them to be smart if the situation arises, but I want them to learn to trust in themselves and their capabilities. When one calls out because they have climbed too high and are scared, I will stand by just in case, but I don’t help. I encourage. I remind them they got up there by themselves so if they stop to think about it, they have the ability to get down themselves as well. Once they are calm, they come back down, unassisted.

We have a tree in the yard the kids love to climb. They are in it at least once per day. They know their limits and where they feel comfortable in it as far as how high they can go. A few days ago, Q decided to push herself and climb a little higher. It ended up being too high for her and she panicked. However, with guidance and a calm voice from mom, she was able to climb down all by herself. Rockstar.

This afternoon I went out to put fresh flowers on Riley’s grave. Sometimes I feel like it’s been so much longer than two months since the baby passed. Sometimes it feels like only yesterday.

I apologize for my absence as of late. There was an intense family issue going on that had to be dealt with. Not here in our house, but it affected us nonetheless. Besides dealing with this issue, a lot of things have been asked of me lately that I’m not sure I’m up to the task of. I mean, how do you save someone from drowning when you don’t know how to swim? How can you give them breath when you’ve forgotten how to breathe?

I feel like some see the smile on my face and think, “Oh, look. She’s all better.” Well, I can tell you: this is not the case. Sometimes there’s a smile on my face because I know my children are watching and they have seen me cry enough. Sometimes there’s a smile on my face because I know you’re struggling too and I don’t want you to ever think I feel your struggle is less than mine. Sometimes there’s a smile on my face simply because I know it’s expected and I don’t like feeling as if I’ve let anyone down.

Let me take a moment to be frank. I am not okay. I don’t think I will ever be okay. But I will survive. I will make sure my living children have full and wonderful lives. But sometimes, I will need some space. Sometimes I will need more help than I have ever asked for. Sometimes I will need you to offer it to me, because despite how much I may need it, I am too embarrassed to ask for it myself. Sometimes, I will need you to ask for less. There are too many missing pieces of myself lately. I am sorry, but I have nothing left to give at the moment.

I have to take each day one at a time. Some days are easy. We laugh. We have fun. I feel like myself. Other days are rough. I am teary. I am depressed. I stumble upon pictures my girlfriend has taken for the first birthday of another child named Riley and weep because my Riley will never have a first birthday.

Just be here for me. Let me take a turn to lean on you. I have not abandoned you; please don’t abandon me. We can all find a way through.

Today marks three weeks since we buried Riley. Some days require less pretending than others. Some days, I am able to embrace the moment, experience it, then move on. Some days, the sadness brings me to my knees. I am a work in progress.

Last night, one of my girl friends took me out to see Beauty and the Beast. We had a nice time before and after, but during the movie, I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel. As you know, I had already seen this movie when my sister and I took our girls to see it. I was still pregnant then. So at first, this was all I could focus on. Then I could only focus on the jerks who came in late, couldn’t find their seats, and interrupted the prologue.

The flashback scenes in the movie are sad and they hit me so much harder this go-around. Many of the musical numbers caused me to cry.

I talked about this with CJ when I got home. Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite Disney movie since I was a child. I have seen the musical many times, including on Broadway. I have all the music on my iPod, even some sheet music from my playing days. I was afraid that all the emotion I felt during this most recent viewing might ruin how I feel about everything. But I told CJ, I think it may have actually made me love it more. Now it needs to hurry up on come out for purchase.

 

Today, the last of the physical proof of what happened to me ended. CJ cannot fully understand why I’m devastated by this. I am upset because besides my broken heart, this was the last of any evidence that Riley was real. It makes me feel even more empty than I already did.

I have been given the contact information of a few women who have gone through this as well. I know that talking to them would definitely help me heal; or at least help me move in that direction. However, I just can’t do this yet. I mean, what do I even say? How do you start that conversation?

I am having a hard time eating and sleeping. Especially sleeping. I know I need some help. Also, I can’t stop myself from going to the cemetery every day. When does that compulsion end?

 

Riley Jordan

Today I painted my face to hide my blotchy cheeks and puffy eyes so I could go out into the world. But I am empty. Literally. I am empty.

As heartbreaking as Monday was, Wednesday was horrific. I have never in my life had any sort of surgical procedure. My heartache over the loss of our child was compounded by the anxiety I felt over being at the hospital and this caused an earth-shattering guilt because I felt I shouldn’t be worried about myself at all. Then, as I was finally released from the hospital, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that instead of bringing my child home warm and bundled in a carseat, I was bringing my child home in a small container.

Today, I wrap my head around the fact I had to pick out a little box. Why does no one ever talk about the tiny coffins? It is the smallest and saddest thing I have ever seen. And then to listen to CJ on the phone with one of the men from the cemetery, giving the dimensions of the little box? …

There are not adequate words to describe this situation. I am struggling to find a way to survive a funeral for my own child. I have never been to one before. And this has to be my first.

Many people have already made comments about trying again, but how can I even think about that when I have to put a child in the ground? Even then, I’m not sure if I will ever be ready. This has devastated me. These few days since Monday I have been having a hard time controlling my tears and even my actions around the other kids. How could I ever risk this happening again?

I am still a mother of four. This baby will always count. We will always remember.