What Sleep Won’t Solve

I’m tired a lot.

For a long time after Joanna died I didn’t sleep well. Some nights I would lay in bed, awake for hours. I would not be able to calm my thoughts and I would stare at the ceiling asking the what-ifs and play the blame game. Other nights I would sleep, but I would toss and turn and feel like I hadn’t slept at all when I got out of bed the next morning.

Of course those nights would lead to tired days. Days where I would wish for my bed. But when I would get to bed that night, sleep wouldn’t come.

Thankfully, most nights I sleep better now. I don’t miss Joanna any less; I tuck her carefully into the bed that is my heart, and we sleep in peace. There are still nights, like last night, that I don’t sleep well, or when the nightmares come, but generally, I am well rested.

However, I have been surprised to find that I am still tired. I am tired in other ways.

I’m tired from worrying. I worry over other pregnancies. I’m tired of doubt and of begging in my prayers that no one else would lose a baby. I’m tired from reading Facebook posts that talk about being in the “safe zone” or “past the scary point” and thinking to myself, “if only you knew.”

I’m tired of my heart racing and my stomach dropping when pregnant friends text me and I fear I will open the text and get bad news. I’m tired of phone calls from friends and asking them, “what’s up?” and then holding my breath when they reply “well…,” hoping they aren’t about to tell me they are pregnant, yet hoping so hard they will know the joy of motherhood.

My soul is tired. My heart is tired. Worn. Wrecked. The weight of grief is still making me weary, though I am not crying every day. Though I am not angry as often. Though I smile most of day again. I am simply tired.

I am tired of feeling this way…where I can’t just be “me” because “me” is someone new now.

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Have You Noticed?

Sometimes, I wonder how observant people are. Do you?

Do you wonder if people notice things as small as: you trimmed your hair a half inch; you lost 3 pounds; you changed your nail color; you wore mascara today?

I wonder if people notice seemingly small things that are actually big: working late at your job not just because it’s the right thing to do (small thing) but because you don’t really want to go home and be alone in your quiet house with your loud thoughts (big thing); you’re clearly angry today (small thing) but this is a 180 from the last six months when you have been so sad (big thing); you’re texting with friends about babies, fertility and their TTC journeys (small thing) but your responses get shorter and have much less enthusiasm every day (big thing).

(I also wonder if Bill will notice the mess I made all over the stove because I didn’t notice dinner was boiling over as I am writing this…)

Somedays, I want to yell at people and say, “Can’t you see this is insensitive? Let’s not talk about it.” But at the same time, I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me, so I tend to bite my tongue. I’m sure this hurts me more than it would hurt the others if I told them how I was feeling. But again, eggshells. We don’t want that!

Along this journey over the last 26 weeks and three days I have tried not to be angry. I have fought so hard not to be bitter. I think I was succeeding. But three days ago it changed. I don’t really understand why. I’m just being honest here – I’m angry. Maybe even a little bitter.

I’m angry a lot. I’ve noticed it. I wonder if others have… It’s not that I don’t want to talk about babies or to look at them or to see my friends’ kids or pregnancy announcements on Facebook or whatever the conversation may be, it’s just that it’s hard. And just because it’s been six months does not mean that it’s easier than it was before.

It will never be easy.

You know what else I wonder? If the cleaning crew at my office notices that I have ultrasound pictures and that they will never change.

Hiding

I’ve made a decision. 10 days is too long to be away from home. Nine days even, since today is nine days and I am tired of being away. I’ve been tired for a few days, but I think I hit my breaking point last night. You know what else? It’s too long for Joanna to be away from home too, but somehow she has been gone almost six months.

Now, I am not saying that I’ve had a bad time in California on my business trip. I learned a lot about our new marketing automation platform (yay, Marketo!), which was the goal of the trip, of course. I had a great time being on the same side of the country as the rest of my team. It’s always a little lonely being the only one on the marketing team who is on the East Coast.

I went to Disneyland with my work bestie, took myself to the zoo, hung out with my friend/self-declared career mentor, saw the Golden Gate Bridge (!), had ice cream in Ghirardelli Square, ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant for ladies night… So much fun and so many experiences I am glad to have.

It’s not too long to be away from home because it’s not fun or not educational or not worth it. It’s too long because I just didn’t realize how much interaction I don’t get while at home. What do I mean? I get up. I go to work. I go home. I watch TV. I go to bed. Once in a while we go out to dinner or to the movies or to a concert. But really, I don’t spend much time out and about around people.

Last week, this weekend and this week, I have been out, a lot. We go out for dinners, as I said I went to Disneyland and the zoo and other sightseeing. And never in my life have I felt so surrounded by babies, children and pregnant women. I am sure that they are out there, that if I did more while at home I would run into more, but I don’t. 

So being here and daily dealing with this has been hard for me. I was just about ready to leave, but was glad I was surviving such a long time away from Bill. And then, last night I surprisingly hit my breaking point. We went out to dinner and our waitress walked up with her perfectly round baby bump directly at eye level on my side of the table. Then, the whole restaurant filled up with families with small children.

It was beyond over-stimulation, seeing that bump moving around the floor, hearing those kids laughing, screaming, babbling. Even though I was with my girls, I was just ready to leave. I wanted to hide under the covers and never get out of bed again.

I never knew. Somehow I was misguided, I think. I was under the impression that I was doing really well. That I was handling life without Joanna like a champ. But I’ve been hiding. I’ve been avoiding situations where I might run into someone who would ask me a hard question, or who might not know Joanna died, or where I would see a lot of kids. I just go home and hide in the basement with Heinz and the Hallmark Channel.

People say I am strong and brave. But this realization has made me feel like a coward.

I want to consciously make the decision to expose myself to more. To practice how to survive days like these.  To live bravely, in spite of pain, and in honor of J. 

My friend said this to me this week, and I think it’s really true of the last few days especially. I’m really grateful for friends who know what to say, when to say it, and sense what I need to hear. 

Sometimes things are hard but good at the same time. Stay strong and when it’s hard it’s okay to acknowledge it’s hard. Just remember to keep smelling the flowers too. Which you clearly are! Xo

Even When It’s Not True

Some words came out of my mouth the other night that I never thought I would say. But they were there, in my mind, weighing down on me. I had to try them out for size.

And the moment I uttered them, I burst into tears. I knew, as they rolled off my tongue, that the weren’t true, that they were just doubts and fears that I was allowing to take over. Yet the only way for me to fully realize this was to put them out there.

So, on Monday night as Bill and I discussed (more like debated) the possibility of a vacation in September, I struggled to admit what I really wanted to do. Hawaii? Eastern Caribbean? A beach trip close by?

Why was the decision so hard to make? Because we were discussing the best option, keeping in mind that I could be pregnant again by that time. Did we want to be away from a doctor? Was getting away from “everything” and being together more important than that “safety zone” that is my obstetrician, perinatologist and cardiologist just a few miles away?

And so in my frustration, I said to Bill…”I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I even want to have another baby yet.”

There I said it. And in the same instance I knew it was a lie. I want another baby. As soon as possible.

On Tuesday I was still struggling with a decision on vacation, but I knew having another baby is in our future. In all honesty, I cried a lot on Tuesday. I cried because I had doubted. I cried because I am scared. I cried because my desire is so strong and I’m nervous pregnancy won’t happen again for us.

As I was driving home, I was praying for hope, for faith, for strength for the journey to baby. It was raining, but as I got closer to my exit, the sun popped out in front of me. I was certain there had to be a rainbow behind me. I was positive that I was missing it. As I exited and rolled around the off-ramp, the sun now behind me, I spotted it: the most glorious sign of God’s promises for my life (as well as what I hope was a “hello, Mama!” from Joanna). A rainbow. A double rainbow, in fact.

I know I’ve written about rainbows, but I just can’t tell you enough how rainbows bring such joy and hope to me. And this one, I needed it so desperately.

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