Saturday, April 21, 2007

Matthias Journal Part II

September 12th, 2005

Grace had gymnastics today and there was a nice lady there whose daughter is in Grace’s class. She had her baby boy with her, too. When I saw her come in pushing the stroller and saw her chubby baby sitting in it as we waited for class to start, I almost lost it. He was probably 5 or 6 months old and super pudgy and happy. I couldn’t believe how I responded to seeing that baby. I had to walk away and breathe deeply to stop the choking feeling. Deep breaths in through the mouth. Don’t think of your dead baby.

The moms sat up in a viewing room overlooking the gymnasium. She sat next to me with her baby on her lap. As we casually chatted I kept praying, don’t let her ask me about my children. She didn’t. I couldn’t have answered without weeping. She started playing with her little son, kissing his neck and making mommy/baby sounds to him. He was just chortling these deep belly laughs, his mouth wide open and happy. Then as his mom was lifting him up in front of her and kissing his buddha belly, he looked right over at me, right into my eyes, and smiled. I just had to smile back at him.

Then suddenly I was that woman and her baby was Matthias. I had this clear image of Matthias – happy, giggling, loving me and being loved. I saw so clearly what would have been. I saw my baby alive. My breath caught in my chest, and as I watched this happy mother with her happy baby, I saw Matthias’ picture on our fridge and it was he and I sitting there laughing.

But it faded so quickly. I saw the grave, the emptiness of everything, the meaningless baby things all over my house. And I knew that it wasn’t Matthias and me. I knew hers was happy and fat and giggling and alive, and mine was dead. I had to turn away, not look, not hear, ignore. I had to fight the suffocating shock of my reality again. I had to battle between the image of my baby alive and the knowledge of him dead.

This reality of Matthias dead is hard.

September 16th, 2005

My baby is dead and my husband wonders why I’m not normal. Not just wonders – expects me to BE normal and is angry when I’m not.

I am not normal. I cannot be normal.

October 1st, 2005

Matthias inhabits my waking thoughts and my dreams at night. There is bitter weeping in my dreams; sharp, sad sighs all day. I dream of him alive, or dead, or something in between. I dream of other women with babies and then in my dreams I weep greatly. But in the day, toward those women and babies, I try to smile.

Sometimes it feels like he is lost, somewhere nearby, and I only have to find him. I know he’s here; I can almost hear him, almost see him lying there, almost feel his soft baby skin. But he isn’t really here. And almost seeing him, almost hearing him, almost having him is not enough. If only I could hold him. Oh, Matthias, you were too soon gone.

October 15th, 2005
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Your sudden breath
From life to death
A bitter grace
A yielding peace.
Farewell brother, son
Our small sweet one.
My baby boy
Not born in joy
In two days gone.

Lord, Yours are not our ways;
You give and take away.
So send Your love
Like a healing dove.
We bleed and cry
But death will die
All will be restored
When we see our LORD.

October 16th, 2005

I miss you, baby boy.
Your Papa calls you “our young son”. Sometimes when I think of you, I smile. Sometimes I cry. I love you. I will always, ALWAYS know you.
I miss you so much. You are a bitter sweetness, a joyful grief, an agonizing peace.
I love you, Matthias.

October 28th, 2005

This feels too hard. It is a pain I cannot bear. I cannot hold such grief and sadness inside me. It wrenches and twists and breaks me. I cannot be a mother to a dead baby. I can’t believe it. The pain of "my baby is dead“ is too much for my brain. I want to scream and rip my hair out. I want to close my eyes and cover my ears and make it go away. I need relief from this. It is too much. I need a respite. I need someone else to shoulder this suffering.

October 31st, 2005

I got pregnant with Matthias one year ago. One year ago my husband and I laughed and hugged when we found out we were going to have a baby. One year ago we tried to fathom what it meant to have created life. To realize that God had used us to bring an eternal soul into being. It was all exitement and happiness and smiles and awe. We did not know it would become anguish and sadness and tears and shock. We did not know our baby, our Matthias, would die.

I believe I am pregnant again. I hardly know what to feel. It makes me miss Matthias so terribly. I just want him. I want my baby. I want Matthias so much, but I know he’s dead and that’s final. It’s so final, so permanent. I want more children, but I want Matthias more. Oh, I want him, I miss him. How do I walk through life with such a hole?

If this were a story, I could do some impossible task to get him back, and I would do it. I would climb the highest mountain or cross the desert or swim the ocean. I would do whatever it would take in order to get my baby back. But I CAN’T DO ANYTHING. I can’t get him back! If only there was something… but there isn’t. The finality of it! Matthias is like a puff of smoke, a little rainbow light from a prism. I keep reaching out for him but I cannot hold on to him. He is there, but not really. I am trying to get to him; trying to catch him. But there is nothing in my hands when I open them and my arms are still empty. He is so present to me. He is so real. But I can’t find him.

November 11th, 2005

I am home alone. Grace left for the weekend at 2:30 and Richard won’t be home until 6:30. I am lonely. I miss Grace so much. She is so dear and precious to me. We told her last night that I’m pregnant and she was really excited. If this baby lives, she will be 7 when he/she is born. I want so much for her to have a baby brother or sister here with us.

I am glad I am pregnant, but I am not excited. I want to be pregnant, but I am not expectant. I don’t feel like I really will have a baby in 8 more months. I am terrified that I will have a miscarriage. I feel like my body will think I’m not ready to be pregnant yet and won’t keep this baby. I’m afraid my body will betray me, thinking it knows best. I want to tell my womb, keep it! I’m okay! I want this baby and I’m ready! But bodies do what the want, and I can’t make mine listen. I just hope it will keep my baby.

The other thing is this almost total lack of anticipation. I don’t think about being pregnant. I don’t think about having a baby. I don’t think that I’m going to have a baby. I think I may. It’s possible, but not sure. Maybe not even probable. Today I am pregnant. Tomorrow I may not be. I don’t expect that I will be. And it’s not that I’m forcing myself to have this mindset. It’s not as if I start to think about my baby and then force myself to stop thinking about it. I just don’t think the same anymore. I don’t fantasize about my baby like normal pregnant women do. I think, “Wow, today I was pregnant. I’m glad! Who knows what I’ll be tomorrow or next month or next July. All I know is right now I’m six weeks pregnant. And that may be it.”

Being pregnant has also made me miss Matthias so much. Terribly. Before I was pregnant I wanted to get pregnant so badly because I was missing a baby. I had all these maternal desires and love built up inside me and no baby on which to pour it out. The desire to hold a baby was painfully strong. Now it has really sunk in that I will always be missing a baby. If I have this baby, I may want to get pregnant again right away because I will still have a missing baby and still have a need for that baby in my life. However may children I have, I will always have one too few. Having children won’t fill the hole. Matthias will always be missing. Sometimes I even feel angry, like I don’t want this baby – I want Matthias! But then of course I feel horribly guilty and know that I do want this baby. I’m just so sad for Matthias. Sad that I delivered my baby after nine months and he died. I’m so sad that he is a memory; forever a two-day-old baby in my mind and not a three-month-old in my arms. He doesn’t seem real. Like I’m trying to hang onto a fog.

Last Wednesday I told Grace, “Matthias would be three months old today” and she said, “Wow, he’s really growing!” I had to explain, well no, he’s not. At least his body isn’t. Like how dead trees don’t grow or dead flowers don’t grow. I don’t know if she understood. She just said, “Oh. They don’t?” I know she does miss Matthias in a real way. There is also just an acceptance with her, like a matter-of-fact way of saying, Matthias was my brother and he died. I see her trying to figure out how Matthias fits into our lives. Does she say, I have a brother? Mama has two children? Now I’m going to have another brother or sister? There are two children in our family? Sometimes she draws pictures of our family with Matthias in them. It’s difficult for us all to learn how to talk about our family now. We have to use odd language littered with exception clauses. We have to define things in strange ways. And try to make it normal. Nothing is normal now. Our new normal is not normal.

I have to learn to grieve and be joyful at the same time.
I have to learn to look forward with anticipation and look back and remember.
I have to be in the present and not forget the past.
I am sad and happy.
I love and I long for.
I have been given something and I have had something taken away.
Grief and joy, mourning and laughing.
Striving and resting, peace and anguish.
Emptiness and fullness, bounty and want.
Life and death, receiving and losing.
I am a walking paradox.
I am sorrowful yet always rejoicing.
Under all is HOPE.

January 3rd, 2006

2005 is over. Strangely, it makes me feel a sense of loss. The year my baby was born and died is gone. We’re moving on and Matthias is not with us. This year, God willing, a new baby will be born, but the year of my loss is gone. Matthias’ year. He will be left in the past and we will move on. I feel like I’m losing him again. I can’t bring him with me. He will become a distant memory in the past as we live our lives. Matthias, Matthias. I’m sorry. You will come with my in my heart, sweet baby. Goodbye.

February 10th, 2006

It has been 6 months since Matthias was born and died. Yesterday we were going to visit his grave but we had a snowstorm and couldn’t go. It’s still snowing today but maybe we can go. It seems like today is so far from that hot August day. My life goes on. I have heartaches that press upon me; sorrows of life, of marriage and mothering and daily burdens. And so this pain of losing Matthias has become mingled with the pain of life. It no longer sits, solitary and special, on a pedestal where I can attend to it alone. Instead it has become part of me and part of all the pain I feel. When I grieve over problems in my marriage, this Matthias grief is part of it. It’s mixed in with my longing to be a better mother and grief over my failings. When I see Richard being harsh with Grace I grieve for her, but somehow it’s also about Matthias.

There are times, too, once in a while, when it breaks free from all other sadness and I grieve for my baby alone. Times when I go back in my mind and recall him and those two days. Then it’s cold and clear, just about Matthias. And also about me and who I am now. Mother to a dead and gone baby. It’s true – it’s all fading and staying in the past and becoming part of my history and life instead of two clear, here-and-now days. And I want to hang on, but maybe I shouldn’t.

June 20th, 2006

Ten months now. In two months it will have been a year. And in three weeks the next baby is due.

Mother’s day was last month. My First Mother’s Day Without Matthias. I felt okay, just a little tinge of sadness, until I was sitting in the pew before church started. All of a sudden I was totally overcome – swept up in a bitter sadness. It was choking me, wrenching at my mind and heart and lungs. It was with a huge effort that I held it back. It welled up again several times and I wanted to let it come. Let all the sadness and grief come pouring out and just cry. But I didn’t. Not in church. I wish I would have.

At the end of the service I got a white rose, along with other mothers who have lost children. That was the saddest part of the day. Otherwise it was not difficult. I am still a blessed mother.

It is summer again and I am hugely pregnant again. I am waiting – impatiently again – for my baby to be born. I hope so hard that this one will LIVE. I don’t think God will take this baby also, but He might.

June 28th, 2007
Moses has arrived, "drawn out of the water."

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