Welcome Home

Well, hello there.  It feels strange to be here.  I haven’t forgotten about this place, not at all in fact, but I feel somewhat a stranger coming back here.  Although these are my words.

My life.

My story.

I feel almost unwelcome here.  That these words are from a place I don’t want to visit…a part of my life, if you will, I want documented but don’t wish to truly remember.

But we never forget, do we?

And it’s important to remember.

No matter our desires, our heads and hearts hold onto those memories…clinging to the feelings, like the talons of a bird cling to its prey, because letting go of them means something dies all over again.

If we don’t cling to the memories, we can no longer re-live the experience searching for clues as to why?  As if we’d missed the answer, hidden in the shadows, from the thousands of preceding mental viewings.

Everywhere I’ve looked today has been today’s date…3/24.  Megyn’s birthday.  Tomorrow is Whitney’s birthday and yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of the day we were told our twins had died inside my body.

This year, it’s a difficult 3 days.  I can’t say I’m incredibly sad this year, I’m not joyful, I’m just, melancholy?  Is that the best word?  I found myself worried late last night about their birthday party.  I believe in Heaven and I found myself praying to a God, that I’m still angry with, that someone give them a party.  That they had balloons, cake, candles, that someone sang to them, told them Happy Birthday, that they had a day filled with laughter and celebration.  That someone hugged my girls and told them they were loved.  Wanted.  Some of you may think that sounds absolutely insane, but grief plays itself out so very differently in people.  This was my way of dealing with the grief of losing my two girls this year.  I don’t wish to go on like this…each year has brought dread and sorrow, and truly, I don’t expect that to be the case as time goes on.  As with most other things, time is the great healer.

When I think back to 2 years ago, I don’t really remember it.  I seem to recall a life free from such tragic grief, free from the reality and fears that come with our experience, but I don’t have a clear picture of that life.  I almost don’t recognize myself these days…2 years out.  I CERTAINLY don’t recognize who I am today compared to the person I thought I would be.  I’ve lost weight, I dress differently, I’m a different wife and mother than I’d ever imagined myself to be, my emotions process differently and I carry the weight of the reality that I lost 2 daughters.  None of these things are particularly bad…who wouldn’t want to lose weight?  I feel like I’ve found my own fashion style and it suits me.  I feel better about myself now than I’ve ever felt before.  The way I process emotions may be different, but I have to believe they are more real than ever before.  The weight of reality I carry with me requires me to view life differently.  Life is so much more precious now than ever before, which can be both awesome and so scary at the same time.  My relationship with my husband is both easy and amazing and difficult and mind-boggling.  There are parts that are better than ever and parts that make me feel like we are at square 1.  My personal journey is confusing also.  While I believe I’m meant to serve my family…my children and my husband, I feel there is more I should be doing.  I volunteer, but there’s more.  I don’t know what it is…I’m not even sure when I’d fit more into my schedule, but there’s a piece of me missing.

I was right, a long time ago, when I started writing here.  My story was just beginning.  It’s a journey, that is still very much in the beginning phases.  I’m no closer to knowing how the story ends today than I was 2 years ago and at the same time, I feel like I’ve solved a good chuck of the puzzle just by walking the walk.  Just by getting out of bed each day…especially in the early days.  Just by being willing to say losing the twins was only the beginning, and not the end.

I’d like to come back here more.  I’d like to share more, to catch up and tell you what has happened over the past year, and share with you what my heart desires in the months and years to come.  My avoidance here has been mostly due to time constraints…this year has been busy.  It’s hard enough to find the time to write, even harder to have the peace of mind needed to process my thoughts and emotions and put something here that’s worth reading now and worth remembering years from now.

There’s a part of my that yearns for time here, though.  I’m pulled here, a place to write, to be emotional, to document this life of mine.  A place to chronicle this journey I’m on and a place for people to come that may find some small bit of help here.  Even if only to learn they are not alone in this crazy thing called life.

So I think you’ll see more of me, very soon.

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The Twins – Part IV

There is no end to this story.  There is no conclusion.  You can’t take all the pieces, put them in a box, close it, put a bow on it and call it finished.  No, their story will follow us the rest of our lives, and continue to unfold.  Possibly into further generations, we have no way of knowing.  As I sit here just days away from giving birth to our 4th daughter, and almost a year after their birth, I feel I need to offer some sort of end to their online story.  There are things that happened I haven’t yet written about.  The days immediately following their death and the intense emotional experience we went through just a mere month after the twins died.  This is the final part of their story.

The twins were born on a Thursday and Friday, respectively, and I was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon.  I don’t remember much about the ride home.  It was sunny and warm, I remember that much.  I also remember wanting desperately to see A, to see her smile, to see LIFE.  I slept a lot those first few days home.  Lots of flowers were delivered to our house, which I still find odd.  The last thing I wanted around my house were the living, beautiful floral arrangements to remind me of my dead babies. I know people were just trying to be kind, but I found it repulsive.  We put a sign up outside asking delivery men not to ring the doorbell.  My mom told me later about a conversation the Hubs had with one.  Hubs was asked if we’d just had a baby as he was accepting a flower delivery.  “No,”  he responded, “We just lost 2.”  How does one respond to that question?  It would only be one of many, many awkward conversations we would have.

We had a lot of time in the hospital to discuss what we would do with the twins’ remains.  We knew we would hold them, talk to them, keep them with us for some time, and we chose to have their bodies cremated and then we would take possession of the cremains.  Because the twins died before 20 weeks gestation, our loss was still medically classified as a late miscarriage.  Had they died past 20 weeks, we would have been forced, legally, to either cremate or bury their bodies.  This was my first experience with death.  I’ve lost grandparents, but I was never that close to them so conversations such as these were never had.  I’ve always avoided the casket at wakes and at funerals, but holding the bodies of my dead twins never felt gross or strange to me.  It didn’t matter if they were alive or dead, they were my babies and they had souls and I was going to miss them no matter what.   It was a no-brainer that we would want them home with us in whatever form we could have them.  There is a local funeral home that doesn’t charge a fee to cremate the bodies of stillborn babies.  They picked up their bodies from the hospital morgue on Friday.  We checked, and checked and double-checked with the hospital and funeral home about our 1 request.  We requested the twins’ bodies be kept together.  Cremated together, ashes placed in the same bag and then that single bag was to be placed inside the urn.  As impossible as it was to lose 2 babies, there was some sense of peace they at least had each other.  Because the twins were never alive, they didn’t receive birth or death certificates.  The only paperwork we have that bears their full names printed on it are the consent forms we had to sign for the funeral home to take possession of their bodies.  Those pieces of paper are very important to me.  I’ve read recently about certificates of stillbirth; it’s something I’m going to look in to.  We were anxious to get the twins home.  I left the hospital with a huge lump in my chest that wouldn’t go away.  It’s like I couldn’t breathe.  We’d been given a bunch of literature at the hospital and most of the books referenced this feeling and called it a broken heart.  The lump wouldn’t go away until we were able to collect their remains.

I don’t remember the exact day we got the call we could pick up the twins.  I think it was the following Thursday, a week after Megyn’s birth.  I know A was in school.  I pass by this funeral home a lot these days…it’s right down the street from the hospital.  I remember where we parked and I remember feeling so very sad, lonely and empty as we walked inside.  We agreed to pay $50 to have their remains placed inside an urn instead of a plastic box.  It’s very small, I remember both the Hubs and I being surprised at how small it is.  It’s ivory and gold colored, shaped like a heart and fits in the palm of my hand.  We confirmed again their remains were together inside the plastic bag inside the urn.  I held them close to my chest as we walked out of the funeral home and got back into the truck.  On the way out of the house, I grabbed a blanket given to us at the hospital.  I’m forever grateful to the organization Threads of Love for providing a handmade, crocheted blanket for our girls.  We had nothing for them, and I’ve felt guilty about it ever since.  It never occurred to me to purchase them something, anything.  A blanket, a stuffed animal…something that we could have taken with us that was intended for them.  The nurses took pictures of the girls on this blanket and it’s the only thing we have they actually touched.  As soon as I got into the truck, I wrapped their tiny urn up in this blanket.  “All babies go home wrapped in a blanket,” I explained to my husband.  I remember sitting in the truck, their remains wrapped in a blanket in my lap and taking a deep breath.  For the first time, I could breathe.  The lump was gone.  It finally felt like the longest day of my life had ended and we could attempt to move forward.  The twins’ cremains are in our bedroom.  In those first several weeks and months I would touch them daily, talk to them.  On Mother’s Day last year I held them near my heart and looked at their pictures.  It was important to me to spend time with them on that day.  I haven’t looked at their pictures since then.  I still touch them a lot and tell them I miss them.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them in one way or another.  While it may seem odd to some, having them home with us was the right choice.  We talked about burying them, but neither of us feels rooted here and I would have a really hard time moving away and not being physically close to their gravesite.  We may still bury them at some point, but not yet.  In the meantime, they’ll stay with us.  Their urn is small and in our bedroom.  It doesn’t exactly spark a lot of conversation from people visiting our home and the fact we have their remains here at our home is not information we openly share.  The weeks after that are a blur.  There was a lot of crying.  There was a lot of conversation. There were intense conversations about how odd it felt to be straddling life here on Earth and life in Heaven. I’ve never felt like dying, or taking my life, but it’s a strange feeling to suddenly feel like you’re in more of a hurry to get to Heaven. I believe my girls are there and I will meet them one day.  There was almost an immediate shift in life goals and priorities and there were relationship changes with our friends and family.  Family became really important…still is.  Some friends became more important, some friends fell away, and that’s ok.  I appreciated text messages and emails from friends, but I didn’t want anyone around me except my family.  I felt that way for a very long time and I still prefer family almost a year later, though I’m working on being a little more social.  I have a few close girlfriends that I’m constantly in touch with.  I took a year long leave of absence from the volunteer organization I’m a member of, stopped posting on facebook and didn’t return phone calls for months.  I needed some time to re-evaluate my life.  What was important to me and frankly, figure out exactly what I was going to do with this new life I was facing.  Things changed, I changed, my husband changed.  We were visited by a family friend who has had her own life’s battles after we returned from Sea World last April.  Since we’ve been dating, both Hubs and I have looked up to this couple as people we’d like to model our life after.  They don’t have children, they couldn’t because of a cancer diagnosis she got at a young age.  She talked to me about that stage of her life…how it changed her.  How it made her into the person she is today, the one I so respect and admire.  How it did things for her marriage no other experience could do.  She wakes up everyday and if she faces adversity, well, at least she doesn’t have cancer she says.  She wouldn’t trade her experience and I appreciated her visit very much.  It gave validation to what I was feeling, validating the feelings of change I had been experiencing. It also gave validation to the fact the Hubs and I had been discussing the changes in our marriage, how it seemed through tragedy, we actually grew closer, deepening our relationship, and it gave me confidence that losing some friendships was ok…that there would be people that would fall out of our lives because they couldn’t deal with the changes that were happening to us.  We still see those changes and almost a year later, I find it almost overwhelming to reflect upon all the changes in our life. This tragedy of losing the twins will foster positive growth, and something big and great will come out of it. I know it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

As husband and wife, we were doing the things that husbands and wives do about a month after losing the twins. It was that night I discovered a tiny lump, almost like a grain of rice on the Hubs, in a place you don’t ever really want to find a lump. I brought it to his attention, asking him if he’d felt it before. He said no. He was actually scheduled to head out of town that Monday and I was freaked out. I left it up to him, but thankfully, he squeezed in a doctor’s appointment that morning to see our family practitioner.  He was given an exam, and then a prescription for an ultrasound at the hospital as soon as he returned from his business trip. Not the diagnosis I was hoping for. I’m sure he was also hoping to hear it was no big deal, a cyst or maybe some connective tissue. I’ve never felt so panicked and fearful in my whole life. I called my mom in a state of absolute panic who in turn sent my dad to sit with me until she could get here. I was terrified of the Hubs leaving, of me being by myself. It was the first time he’d left town since losing the twins, and he was leaving with the knowledge that we might be facing a diagnosis of testicular cancer upon his return. It was heart-wrenching to think about. Not for one second did I think there was no way he’d be taken away from me. Not for one second did I believe God wouldn’t do that to me, to us. If he’d allowed the twins to die, what’s to stop me from thinking he’d take my husband too? I remember sitting in my den, on my knees, sobbing and begging a God I didn’t really trust anymore not to take my husband away from me, not to take my best friend. It’s a moment that has been seared into my mind. I was helpless, hopeless and broken. I had absolutely no where to turn and I was left to put my trust in a God that, in my mind, had hugely failed me only a month before. I can’t explain the kind of fear and panic I felt. I’ve never experienced it before, and haven’t experienced it since. Between the doctor’s visit and the ultrasound appointment I did as much research I could online. One of the hardest things to read about were the fertility discussions. We had been talking about when to have another baby after losing the twins and when dealing with testicular cancer, based on the diagnosis, future fertility becomes a question. Things like sperm banking and such are real discussions your doctor will have with you. We were both a nervous wreck on the day of the ultrasound. We actually had to check-in at the hospital and hurry up and wait…as is the case with most hospitals. The Hubs chose to have me go with him, for such an awkward appointment, I again, left that decision up to him. I promised him the tech would either be some gnarly dude or a 60+ year old Gerta. I was wrong. The tech that came to get us with 30ish, cute, spunky and had long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. Looking back now, I feel bad for the guy. At the time, I didn’t care. I’d spent the last month with a doctor’s hand halfway up my vagina…who was I to judge? Even though she isn’t supposed to give results, she identified the mass pretty quickly. After she was done she let us know she was fairly certain the mass was simply a fluid filled cyst. There was good circulation and she didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. We had to wait until the next day to hear back from the radiologist, but he confirmed the mass was a cyst and only needed further attention if it grew in size. We were relieved, to say the least, but I certainly haven’t forgotten about the whole experience. It left its mark on me; reminded me how precious ALL life is, how important my relationship and friendship is with my husband. How very grateful I am to have him in my life.

Part of me wishes there was a way to wrap all this up and call it finished. But I know that’s not realistic and I think, as I approach the end of my life, I’ll look back and be thankful I was never given a conclusion. It’s an ongoing story/experience for a reason. I’m still struggling with the fear. The fear of something happening to A. To Hubs. To Baby C while she’s still inside me and of course, once she’s born. I don’t believe you have one gut-punch in life and you’ve then somehow paid your dues. I believe there are people who go through life unscathed, and people who go through life experiencing tragedy upon tragedy. Then there are those who fall in the middle of the spectrum somewhere. So, I struggle with the fear. I’ve known loss and I’m terribly afraid of it happening again. I’m also struggling with my relationship with God. I’m finding it difficult to trust Him, find it difficult to pray – to ask for things. However, I do believe what happened to me was intentional…was crafted by God and I believe it was intended to be a blessing in my life – I just haven’t been able to see it yet. I do not believe what happened was a random occurrence, an unintentional chain of events. These are the things I’m currently working on and I’m sure as time goes on I will find other things I’m struggling with and working on. Again, I think it’s a life-long experience. On a Saturday, a few months after the twins had died, I was sitting in a nail salon waiting to get a pedicure. I was at a place I don’t normally go, and I was facing an hour long wait. I decided to stay, A was sleeping, I had no where else to be and found myself sitting next to an elderly lady who had walked in to make a later appointment and was simply waiting for her husband to pick her up. I don’t even know how we got on the subject, but I learned she lost her youngest child, at about 7 months, to SIDS. For the first time, I was able to gather the courage and have the emotional stability to tell her that I lost identical twin girls at 19 weeks. I know it’s not the same as losing a 7 month old, but it’s still losing children. It seemed like such an out-of-body experience as she placed her hand on mine and told me how very sorry she was. She was gone shortly after that. I have no idea who she was. I believe that as I go through life, I will have opportunities, both big and small, to share my story. I’m very open about what happened, about the processes I’ve been through both physically and emotionally and I’m not afraid to tell people what I regret. I’m glad to have started blogging, to have a spot to share my story in hopes that it brings comfort or understanding to someone who is going through something similar. So, that’s where I’m at. I have my ups, I have my downs. I’m not sure I’ve handled this whole experience as well as one can, but I’m doing my best. I’m longing to share my story with others, to let them know the despair they feel will eventually subside, but to also let them know it never truly goes away. To let them know it’s ok to feel how you feel, no matter what. It’s ok to embrace your fear, your anger, your guilt and work through it. Don’t bottle it up or repress it. It’s ok to lose friends and relationships and to tell them you WILL change and that it’s ok. I want to encourage parents to not turn towards bitterness about their experience…to embrace the anger, pain and hurt for a time, but then to try to move forward. To start seeking out a purpose, a reason for the loss. To say I had it all figured out, I’d be a liar. I don’t. But I’m trying and hoping that some answers are coming our way soon.

I’ve seen changes in myself that I never expected. I’m much more conservative (not in a political sense) than I’ve ever been. I’m taking a deeper look into how I spend my time. Taking a closer look at what exactly I’m doing with my time, with my life. Focusing on fostering the relationships that are important to me and letting go of the ones that aren’t benefitting me. I think the Hubs and I are putting in a small garden this year, we’d like to start paying much closer attention to what goes into our bodies – trying to make the move to more organic foods, and trying to eliminate processed food. We’re also tossing around schooling options for A and one thing that has come up is a part-time homeschooling option. These are all things that were incredibly foreign to whoever I was before losing the twins. I hope this, in some way, wraps up our story for you. It’s taken me almost a year to write 4 installments and I feel their story deserved that much time. We will continue to recognize them on special Holidays and will recognize their birthdays on 3/24 and 3/25. We will forever consider Megyn and Whitney a part of our family, and will pay tribute the small but HUGE impact they’ve made in our lives. Although their time with us was short, the changes, decisions and goals we’ve made are substantial and never would have happened without them in our lives. We love you Megs and Whits and we WILL see you again; and until we can tell you in person, thank you for being in our lives, thank you for the changes you have brought about and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can go on to fulfill our life purpose and destiny.

I’m braving a bikini wax today.

I’m no waxing virgin.  I’ve done everything from eyebrows to bikini to brazilian for years now and frankly, I don’t find it to be that bad.  The lady I go to came highly recommended by a few people and she’s great…which makes a big difference.  Not only is she skilled and quick, but we chit-chat the whole time I’m laying there in a slightly compromising position while she spreads hot wax on my nether-regions and rips my pubic hair out.  While not at the top of my list of fun things to do, waxing doesn’t normally scare me.  It does today though.  You see, I’ve apparently been doing SUCH a good job practicing my Hypnobirthing relaxation techniques that some intruder came into my bedroom, acquired a pair of steel-toed boots and kicked me, repeatedly, in the crotch.  I had no idea this was happening (since I was so relaxed and all) and wasn’t aware of the damage that had been done until the next morning when I could barely get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom.  It was the kind of pain where you expect blood, bruising and swelling, only upon closer inspection (not that close, really, I’m 35 weeks pregnant after all), everything looked fine.  Obviously a more likely scenario is that my body is like, “Oh, yeah, I remember this.  Let me go ahead and stretch those ligaments and open up that pelvis ahead of time for ya.”  More likely, yes, but not NEAR as much fun to tell people.  Or perhaps there’s a head sitting in my pelvis and pressing down on my cervix.  A girl can dream.   So while the pain is a little better than it was a few days ago, I fear the pain that is still there might make this upcoming bikini wax a little nightmarish.  It really doesn’t matter though, because I’m apparently growing a rainforest down under and I can’t accept it any longer.

I went out this past weekend and spent what I consider to be a ridiculous amount of money on nursing attire.  I needed nursing bras, a few nursing tanks and wanted some nursing pajamas for the hospital, around the house and basically the next year of my life.  This stuff, rarely, if ever, goes on sale so I was forced to pay full-price, except for the pj’s, which were buy 1 get 1 free.  For some reason, the last time around, I decided I didn’t need nursing bras or breast pads or any of that fancy-schmancy nursing attire.  And I didn’t for a few days.  Until my milk came in.  I was perfectly fine in the hospital fighting the cups of my bra down so I could feed A.  Once I got home I pretty much went braless and it took me days, DAYS, to discover that when A nursed on one side I was, quite literally, spewing milk from the other side.  I could not for the life of me figure out why my shirt and boppy were wet…and why my child’s clothes were wet.  The story I love to tell is my 20-something sister sitting on the couch with me while I’m nursing…I have no shirt on and no bra (I lack some of the basic ins and outs of modesty people…especially around my family) and I’m squirting milk out of one boob.  My poor sister…I’m pretty sure I scarred her for life.  (She also sanitized the pieces of my breast pump for me.  The hilarious images of her boiling my breast pump parts in the kitchen and removing them from the water with tongs still makes me smile.)  Thankfully she had enough decency to say, “Um, can I get you a towel or something?”  I was too busy laughing to answer her.  I found it incredibly funny at the time, and still do.  I had tears rolling down my face I thought it was so funny.  I still didn’t get it though.  I remember looking down as the photographer was leaving after A’s newborn portraits and seeing a wet spot about the size of a nickel on my shirt.  I was like, “What the hell is that?”  She was 2 weeks old at this point and I STILL hadn’t figured out my boobs were leaking.  I wasn’t totally ignorant either.  I took a class and read several books specific to breastfeeding.  For some reason though, I figured the rules didn’t apply to me.  I don’t remember when I finally decided I needed some nursing bras and breast pads, but it took waaaaaay too long for me to come to that conclusion.  I’m set this time around though.  Except for one thing…

The Hubs got onto me last night because all my new, ‘spensive nursing attire is still sitting in the shopping bags.  I can’t bring myself to take the tags off, wash it and toss a few things into a bag for the hospital.  I don’t mean to be difficult, I just have this mental block and every time I think about doing something like packing a freaking hospital bag, I convince myself I still have plenty of time.  It’s a defense mechanism and the real reason is that I’m afraid to pack a bag with nursing clothes, a baby blanket, a stuffed animal for Baby C and her coming home outfit; all this stuff that indicates I ACTUALLY EXPECT to bring home a living, breathing baby.  It’s so weird, but I’ve promised him I would at least wash the new clothes today so we’ll see if I make any progress.  A and I spent several hours yesterday afternoon with my mom.  Both my parents and my in-laws wanted to purchase something substantial for Baby C.  My in-laws bought the new glider (wonder when it’s going to be ready?) so that left a new breast pump or a new diaper bag for my parents to purchase.  I don’t need a new diaper bag.  I have an INSANELY expensive one that I adore but I WANTED a new one for this baby.  I found a gorgeous new one yesterday that my mom happily purchased for me.  I’m excited about it but it’s still sitting in my bedroom.  Haven’t even taken it out of its beautiful bag and dust cover.  I just can’t.  Not yet.  The pricey diaper bags have ALWAYS been my thing.  I used to joke with the Hubs that if I ever decided I wanted to have kids, he was going to have to agree to a $1500 diaper bag.  He thought I was joking.  No he didn’t, he knew I was serious.  I didn’t spend quite that much the first time around, and my mom only spent a fraction of that, but there’s something about making such a large, luxurious,  intentional for Baby C purchase that has me a little freaked out.  Hubs told me last night he doesn’t think I’ve actually wrapped my head around the idea that we’re HAVING ANOTHER BABY.  I think he’s right, but I’m not sure how to fix it.  I’m going through all the motions, I’m excited about meeting her, preparing for labor and delivery and finishing up her nursery, yet, I’m not sure I’ve actually grasped that we’re leaving our home with 1 little girl and coming home with 2 little girls.  And my latest irrational, pregnancy-induced, hormonal fear?  That Baby C will be born a “he” instead of a “she”.  Pretty sure the Hubs wants out at this point.  He can’t take the crazy much longer.

So, if you hear screaming from deep within the heart of Texas in the next hour…no worries, it’s just a much too vain pregnant lady getting her lady bits waxed in an attempt not to appear as a freak show for all the nurses and doctors that will see her most treasured body parts over the coming weeks.  And blah, blah, blah, they’re professionals that see it everyday, they don’t care…yeah, I know.  I’ve heard it all.  But I like to think they too can at least appreciate the effort.

Is it a big deal?

Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking maybe I’m making too big a deal about losing the twins. I feel like maybe I’m holding onto the experience when I need to start letting go. I get especially frustrated on days when my emotions take over and I can’t control my thoughts. It just feels like the whole ordeal takes up so much space in my brain.

Then I remember two children died. And those children were my daughters. They were my identical twin daughters. And they were 2 of my husbands girls. And they were my daughters sisters. And they weren’t removed from my body during a 45 minute medical procedure, but delivered from my body after laboring with them for hours. I saw them, held them, rocked them, touched them, talked to them and kissed them. I knew their faces, I knew their bodies. I am their mother and they are my children. And we’ve been separated by circumstances out of our control.

It is a big deal. A very big deal. And it will always hold a very big place in my heart and in my mind.

Antigua

So. In keeping with the theme of Recovery Summer and the intense desire to run away that comes on the heels of the worst situation ever, the Hubs and I booked ourselves a trip to get the hell outta’ dodge. We just returned from 5 glorious days in the Caribbean looking like 2 tanned, smiling, stuffed piggies. The result of over-indulgence in sun, food, adult beverages and, ahem, other adult activites.

What started out as a trip designed to provide some healing turned into a trip that was unknowingly a desperately needed rendezvous between husband and wife. It had been far too long since I had been simply, my husband’s wife. It’s a position in my life that I’m proud of, a position I enjoy. In the daily ins and outs of life it has become almost impossible for me to wind down enough to just be a wife. Being a mother and stay at home mom always seem to fight for space in my thoughts. As a mother, my thoughts float to the twins and to my daughter. I have the normal worries I assume other parents have. Worries that I’m not being the best parent, that I’ve failed her somehow, that she’s not independent enough. I especially worry about the lasting effects on A due to my shattered emotional state after losing the girls. I just haven’t been fully present and I hope I haven’t eternally scarred her. As a stay at home mom, 99% of the household responsibilities fall to me. It’s difficult to spilt household chores when your husband is a road warrior. It’s not meant to be a complaint, just the facts.

So, I say all that to say that the Carribbean sun or maybe the sand, or quite possibly the unlimited adult beverages have magical properties. One, or all of the above gave me whatever I needed to literally let every thing else go and solely focus on my husband. Or maybe it was the upgrade to Penthouse #3. It takes a lot to get me to the point where I literally cannot stop smiling and as we were being shown around our Penthouse, I had the biggest grin plastered on my face that would not go away. It was a wonderful feeling. Or maybe it was the knowledge that as a couple, we could run circles around all those honeymooners that thought they had it all figured out. It was a wonderful experience neither of us will forget. Ever. And it was certainly one of the better ideas we’ve ever had.

I also want to mention a thought I had while on the plane. At 38,000 feet, was I any closer to the girls? I mean, if Heaven is truly in the sky somewhere, then yes, I was physically closer. It was a thought that gave me some comfort and of course, made me cry.

Recovery Summer

We’re calling this time in our lives “Recovery Summer”. After I came out of the fog of the 2-3 weeks following the loss of the girls I realized there was no picking up where you left off and moving on with life. Things had changed. Things needed to change. Some of these changes were involuntary, some voluntary. Some of the changes permanent, some temporary. In the midst of it all I realized I needed to grant myself some leniency in a few areas and my husband deemed this time period “Recover Summer”. To be fair, Recovery Summer may very well last past the closing of summer this year. I decided to give myself some grace in the following areas:

Housekeeping. Most days I just can’t get it done. I still seem to wander through my life with no real sense of purpose. I have a daily schedule that, if followed, ensures a clean house every day. Nope, not doing it during Recovery Summer. In fact, some days are still so bad we don’t do much except lay in bed and watch tv. The grief is still consuming and it often takes me by surprise.

TV watching. I have a 2 year old. And it’s summer, in Texas. When I can’t get myself out of bed, or I’m in such a bad mood because the anger is so great, tv it is. I don’t like it and I feel guilty about it, but not guilty enough to change it. Not during Recovery Summer.

Money. Ok, this is a biggie. Hubs and I have worked our tails off and made lots of sacrifices to get where we’re at financially. We have goals, both short term and long term, and we’re hitting milestones. It feels good. Until you’re faced with tragedy and realize you really want to spend some of that hard-earned mula. So I have. Spent lots. I want to be very clear here: No credit cards, no changes to retirement or college savings, no changes to tithing, just less strict with where we direct our excess funds. This will probably be one of the first things that goes back to normal. It’s important to me to reach our financial goals and I realize buying new Tory Burch shoes each month isn’t the way to get there. Besides, I’d really like this house to be paid for.

Weight/Body Image. In a nutshell, I eat and drink what I want and refuse to think about the caloric ramifications. I enjoy food. I enjoy alcohol. I love the whole eating and drinking experience so I’m not worrying about my weight. I’m just enjoying life. Besides, my husband still thinks I’m dead sexy and all my clothes still fit. I don’t see any issues here. I guess you could say that I refuse to deny myself these pleasures while trying to recover from losing the twins. Seems reasonable.

Social Engagements. Most of my time is spent with my daughter and husband. Outside of that tightly knit group is family. Very few friends. I hope I still have some friends left on the other side of this, but 99% of the time I don’t want to be around anyone else. Don’t know why, don’t know if it’s good or bad, it just is. And I’m finding I really need to listen to my emotions and feelings right now. They are the only true gauge of how I’m doing.

So there’s the outline to Recovery Summer. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. I know it doesn’t really matter how much shopping I do, how much I eat or drink, how much tv I watch or how much I do or don’t do with others; the truth is, none of it fixes the loss. There is no true healing for this. It’s like a chronic illness…it will always hurt. I’m struggling right now because I feel like there is a lack of progress. I’ll go through days feeling pretty good, engaging in life and think, ooh! progress! Then I’ll have several days where I feel like I’ve been knocked back to the ground.

If I’m being honest, I’m probably not being knocked as far down as I think, but it shocks me how raw the pain still is. How easily the tears still come and how I am completely powerless to stop them. I’m shocked that a huge lump still closes my throat and that my breath is still sucked away when I focus on what a huge loss I’ve endured. I’m still surprised by the physical toll grief takes on your body. Im tired and beat down. It feels like I’ve been working my fingers to the bone when I’ve actually done nothing at all. Except think. And the thinking is exhausting. The rehashing of the all the details in my mind, remembering their faces, their bodies and trying to never, ever, ever forget the feeling of them cradled in my arms for the first and last time. It’s like there is a video in my mind set on repeat. It just keeps playing over and over again. It never stops. It’s why I cant go back to sleep when I wake in the middle of the night. The emotions and constant thought processing leave me feeling physically drained on a regular basis. I still frown on my passing inability to engage in my life and find happiness when I have an adoring husband and quite possibly the coolest 2 year old ever. I’m still so very angry at God; for doing it, for allowing it to happen, for not fixing it. The pain is immense. And it’s raw and fresh and still there. I keep looking for and hoping for the moment when I can take a deep breath and know the time where the bad days outnumber the good are behind me. I’m certainly not there yet; there is still work to be done.

So let’s raise our glasses: Here’s to hoping Recovery Summer is a big step in that direction. I’m tired of being a passerby in my life, I’d like to return to being a participant. Cheers everybody.