Monday, September 30, 2013

I shouldn't

Life is not how I imagined it would be.

I shouldn't have the luxury of resting in bed, trying to fight off a cold that hasn't yet made up its mind whether it will stay or not. I should be up, looking after an eight month old. But I'm not.

I shouldn't dread meeting new people, in case they ask if this pregnancy is my first. I shouldn't feel awkward when answering truthfully, but then again, people shouldn't back away when I tell them about Ariella.

I shouldn't be uncomfortable at larger gatherings, but people's silence regarding Ariella is deafening.

I shouldn't be planning how to capture my grief when on holidays for a week; I should be excitedly looking forward to introducing Ariella to a great friend of ours. But I'm not.

I shouldn't have to go to the cemetery to visit our girl. But I do.

Eight months on and I miss her more than ever.

Life shouldn't be so hard. But it is.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Capture Your Grief

Carly Marie is hosting the Capture Your Grief photo challenge for October, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Each day has a topic, and those affected by pregnancy and infant loss are encouraged to take part and share their stories by the photographs they take.

I'm going to try and take part, although I will be away for a week, so I'm not sure if I'll do those days or not. I may do them early, or perhaps play catch-up once I'm home! Given the topics, I'm sure it will be quite an emotional undertaking!

I'm curious - are any of you going to take part? All the details can be found on Carly Marie's website - I highly recommend checking out the link, as it explains some of the topics and gives you some things to think about when planning your photos. And if a day will be too confronting, or too difficult, there's no reason you have to do it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Five minute mug cake

When I first heard of this recipe, I knew it was a keeper. I remember hearing it on the radio about five years ago, and quickly grabbing a pen and paper to scribble it down to make sure I could remember it. I needn't have bothered, as just a few years later, "in a mug" recipes seem to be all the rage at the moment! I wanted to share this one with you all, because I think it's perfectly suited to baby loss mums. For months I struggled to cook or bake, but this recipe barely qualifies as cooking or baking! It also has chocolate, and we all know there are times when chocolate is the answer! It's meant to make a single serve, although I find it's quite large to eat by myself and often end up sharing with my hubby. It's also very quick, so the need for comfort food can be quickly satisfied.

Not pretty, but tasty. I promise.

4T    plain flour
4T    sugar
2T    cocoa
1      egg
3T    milk
3T    oil
3T    chocolate chips (optional)
Splash of vanilla essence (optional)

*Add the dry ingredients to a mug and mix well. A bigger mug is better, as there'll be less overflow when cooking.
*Crack an egg and add it to your mug. Make sure you mix well, making sure not to leave pockets of flour in the corners.
*Pour in the oil and milk, and mix.
*Now is the time to add the chocolate chips if you have them, as well as the vanilla essence.
*Pop your mug into a microwave and zap for 3 minutes on maximum power. Depending on the size of your mug, the cake may rise above the rim and start to look a bit strange. That's ok, it will still be tasty! In the photo above, the mug is ginormous; an ordinary mug will give you a very different looking cake!
*Your mug cake is cooked! Take out of the microwave, and enjoy! After all, you slaved over this! ;)

Friday, September 20, 2013

The one with the surprising back story

There are a few TV shows that I love. Gilmore Girls would have to be at the top of the list, no doubt about it. But I also like 30 Rock, Whose Line is it Anyway, and Friends. And it's that last one that I wanted to write about today, hence the title of this post...any other Friends fans out there and get it? :D

In one episode, Joey realises he doesn't have a present for baby Emma's first birthday, so on the spur of the moment he decides to give her a dramatic reading of the children's book that happened to be sitting near Joey. The book was Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. From what we see of Joey reading it, it's a very sweet book that includes the refrain:

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

Isn't that sweet? I happened to see that episode while pregnant, and thought it sounded like such a sweet book. I would love to have a collection of children's books and hopefully instill a love of books in our children. And I thought this one would be a good book to add to the collection. I looked it up on Google, and found the words for the whole book...and it was hilarious! It's all about a mother who rocks her baby to sleep while singing the refrain. But the baby, "it grew and it grew and it grew". It became a two year old, a nine year old, and a teenager, whose behaviour would prompt his mother to say "this kid is driving me crazy"! But nevertheless, at the end of each day, the mother would go into his bedroom, pick him up and rock him, while singing the short song. Even when he was a "great big man"! It's quite funny the scenarios that are given; I mean, a mother sneaking into her adult son's house in order to rock him and sing to him? At the end of the book, the roles are reversed, and the son is the one rocking his elderly mother and singing the song to her (with the last line reading "my mother you'll be"). To hear Munsch reading the book, click here.

I thought it was a sweet book about the unending love a mother has for her baby. But that's all I thought it was.

Now for the surprising back story:

Love You Forever was Munsch' personal tribute to his two stillborn babies and his way of remembering and honouring their little lives. 

Wow. When I discovered that this morning, I was blown away. It was one of those moments of realising that baby loss really does affect a lot of people. I never got around to buying the book when I was pregnant last time, and I'm more determined than ever to find it this time. I love the last two lines of the refrain: as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. Because that's how I've felt about Ariella this whole year. It doesn't matter that she isn't living anymore, I am, and she is still my baby. Even though I will have other children, who will (hopefully and most likely) grow up, she will quite literally be my baby forever.

And I'll love her forever, I'll like her for always.

(To read the full back story of Love You Forever, click here.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Forever is a really long time

Sometimes it hits me that I'll always miss Ariella. Everyday. For the rest of my life. Forever. And that's a really long time.

Missing her isn't like missing my sister, who is living overseas for three years. Because my sister will come back; Ariella won't. Forever is a really long time. 

The hurt I feel at her absence isn't like the hurt from a friend who doesn't speak to me. Because friendships come and go; a daughter should not be gone. Forever is a really long time. 

Every time that I look at the dirty washing that needs doing, I know there should be a stack of little baby clothes also waiting to be washed. I pre-washed all her clothes while I was pregnant, but I'll never wash clothes for her again. Her clothes will forever sit unwashed. Forever is a really long time. 

I see parents playing with their little girls on the playground near my house, pushing them in the swings and catching them at the bottom of the slide. I'm reminded that I've forever lost the chance to play with our little girl. Forever is a really long time. 

On every Mothers Day. On every Fathers Day. On every birthday, anniversary and Christmas. In every family photo, there will forever be one person missing. One sweet little girl, with blue eyes and wavy brown hair. 

Forever is a really long time. 

(*Disclaimer - as a Christian, I do believe that I will see Ariella again in Heaven. Trust me, if it wasn't for that belief I wouldn't cope anywhere near as well.  But please understand that sometimes it's hard to see past this life without her. This life can seem like forever. And forever is a really long time.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A cold, being forced to rest and getting things done

Last Friday I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold. And sure enough, I woke up Saturday with a (not so) lovely cold that has knocked me about for a few days now! It's nothing serious, and if I wasn't pregnant, I'd probably just take a few Cold & Flu tablets and be able to continue on with my normal activities. However, those tablets aren't recommended in pregnancy, so I've been limited to the traditional remedies: rest, and hot honey and lemon drinks made for me by my wonderful husband (thanks Marcus)! I have barely been out of the house since getting sick, but that doesn't mean I haven't done anything! ON the contrary, I've done heaps of things. (Not really, but I'm trying to look for positives and not feel quite so helpless about being home sick!)

So without further ado, the things I have achieved while stuck at home sick for six days:

*A tax return
*Kept the house relatively tidy
*Made, printed, laminated and put up a meal planner (as I find cooking much easier if I know what is ahead). It's nice and colourful on the fridge, and I like the sense of organisation it gives me!

*Made two meals worth of chili con carne and some mini quiches for lunches
*Finally got around to labeling some plastic containers that store our card games. It's only taken me about 12 months to do...
*Watched almost an entire season of Gilmore Girls (an excellent use of my time!)
*Created a Facebook page for the blog. That's right, Deeper Still is now on Facebook! I thought it might be nice to have a place to share my blog posts and other baby loss articles or information, as well as getting to interact a bit more with readers who I don't know in person! You can find the page by clicking here - there's not a lot up there yet, but I'll probably post there more frequently than I have been writing blog posts.

As well as the things listed above, I've managed to completely forget about an appointment that ordinarily I would NEVER forget (although thankfully it didn't matter that I forgot), used one box of tissues (and counting), and stayed in my pyjamas a whole lot more than I have in a long time! Oh, and I ordered some Tupperware :D

So it hasn't been the worst week, even though I have been sick. While I do miss being able to just take a Cold & Flu tablet and get on with life, it's been a good lesson in actually taking time to rest when my body needs it. After this week, I'm sold on the hot honey/lemon drinks to relieve a sore throat! And I'm curious - what's your best natural cold remedy?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Church and Grief

I haven't written on here a lot lately, in fact, this is only my second post for September. I have about 10 half-written posts in draft form, but for various reasons (that I won't go into) I haven't finished them. But when I heard a particular song yesterday, it struck a chord with me and I wanted to write about it.

I've written before about the relationship between faith and grief, but I haven't written much about what it's like to actually go to church after baby loss. I think that's mostly because people from my church will read this, and I don't want them to think that they've done something wrong or that I am picking on them. I also don't want extra looks or glances at each service. But I want to be honest:

While Ariella's death hasn't really shaken my faith, it has made going to church incredibly hard.

You see, there are plenty of things that make being at church hard. Babies born in the months before and after Ariella, including one who was born the week before. I see those babies growing up while knowing that I won't see my girl grow up. Women who were pregnant at the same time as me and with whom I had plenty of baby-related conversations. Those women have their babies in their arms, I do not. Advertisements for the two mothers groups that I had planned on attending, but now cannot do so. Seeing people get prayed for and healed (and rejoicing for them), while knowing that my baby girl wasn't healed.

I knew those things would be hard, but I underestimated how hard one other aspect of church would be: worship. In the 32 weeks since Ariella died, I've only managed a couple of weeks without tearing up (or bawling!) during worship. You see, so many songs that we sing talk about how Jesus has defeated the grave. I am so, so grateful that Jesus has done so, as it gives me the assurance of seeing Ariella again. But singing about the grave being defeated when I have literally lowered my daughter into her grave? Ouch. That hurts. Yes, I believe that Jesus has defeated death - one day it will be no more. But in the present day, death is all too real to me.

Then yesterday I heard this song:

I'm Still Yours - Kutless

If You washed away my vanity, if you took away my words, if all my world was swept away, would you be enough for me? Would my broken heart still sing?

When my life is not what I expected, the plans I made have failed, when there's nothing left to steal me away, will You be enough for me, will my broken heart still sing?

If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away? If you take it all away, this life you've given, still my heart will sing.

Even if you take it all away, You'll never let me go. Take it all away, but I still know that I am Yours, I'm still Yours.

I like how this song doesn't say that my heart will sing in spite of what happened; it's about making the choice to praise God and sing to Him and about Him even when we have nothing left. When bad things happen, you do have a choice. You could walk away from God or you can choose to praise Him even if everything is taken away. I've seen both happen and it makes me so sad when I see people walk away from God and/or the church in the tough times. It's understandable but it does make me sad. On the other hand, when I see people who have been through the unimaginable and yet their faith is stronger than ever, that's inspiring. That's who I want to be like. No matter what happens, I want to be able to stand and worship God throughout the week and each Sunday in church.

A friend told me at the start of my grief journey that sometimes we just have to go through the motions until it becomes real again. For me, that means going to church and doing my best to worship even though my heart breaks at the sight of a small baby or the sound of their cry. Some weeks, it means acknowledging my weakness and staying at home. It's been 32 weeks, and sometimes I still feel like I'm just going through the motions at church. But I'm convinced that's ok. If I didn't do that, I'd never go, and that's no good either. Going to church is hard, but worthwhile. Even if it's only to stay in the habit until I'm no longer just going through the motions.

When hard times come, the choice is yours. If everything you have or long for is taken away - what will you do?

Monday, September 2, 2013

It all comes down to one thing

Life after loss is a very varied thing. I use the term 'life after loss' to label some of my blog posts, and the fact that I have 42 (now 43) posts with that label is evidence of how much there is to say about this topic.

Some days, life after loss looks remarkably like life before loss. We wake up, go to work, come home, go out to meet friends, go back to bed. It has its moments of normalcy.

Some days, life after loss looks like you might expect; it's full of tears, a desire to stay in bed and heart-wrenching pain. It has its moment that you hope don't last for too long.

Some days, life after loss looks like a mixture of both. It's going out somewhere and then hiding in the toilet so you can cry without being questioned. It's laughing at a joke and choking back tears because you saw a pram in the background. It has its moments that are just so conflicting.

It's laughter turning into tears.
Smiles hiding the pain.
Guilt underneath the enjoyment.
Jealousy just beneath the surface.

It's treasuring the small things.
Knowing not to take a moment for granted.
Loving more than you knew was possible.
Finding God's strength when your own has run out.

But no matter what it looks like or what the predominant emotion seems to be, it all comes down to one thing. Whether I'm at work or in bed, laughing with friends or crying alone, sometimes it just comes down to three simple words: I miss her.

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