Friday, January 27, 2012

My Grief Wish List

I also posted this a while, but again it got lost and deleted, so I am re-posting it. The author is unknown, and I changed the wording a little to reflect about our loss of Danielle, but the meaning is still the same.

My Grief Wish List
I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. She lived and was important and I need to hear her name.

If I cry or get emotional if we talk about Danielle, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me; the fact that she died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing.

I wish you wouldn't let Danielle die again my removing from your home her pictures, artwork, or other remembrances.

I will have emotional highs and lows, up and down. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day, I need psychiatric counseling.

I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy and I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, spouse, or a pet.

Being a bereaved person is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't stay away from me.

I wish you knew all the crazy grief reactions that I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, and hopelessness and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following a death.

I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for me. As with alcoholics, I will never be "cured" or a "formerly bereaved," but forever be "recovering" from my bereavement.

I wish you understood the physical reaction to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a lot of illness and be accident prone, all of which are related to my grief.

My baby's birthday, the anniversary of her death, and the holidays are terrible times for me. I wish you could tell me that you are thinking about her on these days and if I get quiet and withdrawn, just know that I am thinking about her and don't try to coerce me into being cheerful.

I wish you wouldn't offer to take me out for a drink or to a party. This is just a temporary crutch and the only way I can get through this grief is to experience it. I have to hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before Danielle died and I never will be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to "my old self," you will stay frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me: maybe you will still like me.

Grieving: Men vs. Women

I had posted this a long time ago, but somehow the post got lost and deleted. I wanted to re-post it now in case anyone wanted to read it. It was a list we made at a Fall Family Day with Children's Bereavement Services. We split up into two groups: men and women. We were asked what we wanted the opposite sex to know about how we grieve. (Of course, the women had much more to say!)

What Men Want Women to Know
-We handle grief more privately (less tears)
-We analyze/ intellectualize our grief; this is an expression of our emotions
-We "do" our grief
-We defer our grief, because we protect, provide, and fix

What Women Want Men to Know
-Mention our child’s name/bring them up
-Share stories
-I sometimes have a desire to be alone or have space
-My emotions can be unpredictable; I may have different triggers than you
-Your acceptance and respect that we grieve differently is important-don’t judge the difference
-Verbalize that you are grieving also
-I don’t need you to FIX it for me-just be there for me and respect and support me and the decisions I make in my grief
-Recognize we may need additional external support
-The meaning of and our sensitivity to certain events may be different-allow us the freedom to change our minds/back out of things; I may not want to explain it or talk about it
-Don’t pressure me to get rid of or pack up our child’s belongings before I am ready
-Allow me time in our child’s room if I want/need it
-I appreciate the tasks-the “doing” that demonstrates your grief
-It’s helpful when you share with me what helped you get through your day
-Acknowledge holidays/other important days
-I appreciate your flexibility with my emotions/reactions
-I appreciate and enjoy hearing what you remember about our child
-I see your emotions as strength
-Ask me to communicate about our grief

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nora's 4-month Check-up

So now that Nora is 5 1/2 months old, I'm finally writing about her 4-month check up. I don't remember a ton at this point, but she's still tall & skinny on the growth charts. Dr. Cady also said that she is the strongest 4-month old she has ever seen, as Nora was kicking her in the chest with her non-stop legs.

Now, Nora is starting to crawl, kind of... she gets up on all fours and rocks. At first she would get frustrated because she couldn't move forward to her toys, she could only move backwards by pushing on her hands. Though, now she's figured out how to get up on all fours, then to slide her arms forward and kind of lunge towards her toys. Sadly, though, she hasn't gotten much practice today, because she's wanted to be held all day. Poor little girl has a cold with a nasty cough. But, I'm sure she'll be fine in a few days a back to working on crawling!

Daddy Tells Nora's Birth Story

We were up late the night before. We had been at a friend's house playing a game that went on for a few too many hours. By the time we finally got home and I fell into bed, it was probably around 11:45pm. I was woken up by Sarah's pained contraction groans around 12:30am. As I had been trained, I immediately started timing both their duration and their frequency. After a few had come and gone, I informed Sarah that they we longer and coming more frequently than the guideline for going to the hospital (5-1-1; 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, lasting for 1 hour). Her's were on the order of 2 minutes long, 30 seconds apart, and I didn't wait for an hour, I decided that we were going. I called the hospital's line for incoming pregnant women and told them to expect us soon. Then I grabbed our previously packed bags and helped Sarah to the car.

I don't remember much of the drive. It is about 15 minutes from our house to the hospital. I can't imagine what the bumps and turns were doing to Sarah, but she made it through alright. We got to the ER and I dropped her off at the door into the care of the waiting nurse. I then parked the car and grabbed our cell phone chargers (we generally charge them overnight, and since we hadn't really had a night they were both almost dead). I met up with Sarah and the nurse inside and we went up to the maternity ward and got a room. They left us sitting in the room alone for a bit. I used that time to plug in my phone and use Sarah's to call Ashley, her doula, waking her up and getting her assurance she was on her way.

After a short wait a nurse came in and hooked Sarah up to the machine that monitored her contractions. They had to monitor her for an hour to be sure she was really in labor and deserving of a room. A little bit after that Ashley arrived and talked us through what in her experience we could expect. While we were waiting for the hour to pass, a nurse from the lab came in to draw Sarah's blood. She was probably the worst nurse ever; she didn't wait for Sarah's contraction to pass before trying to stick her with the needle. Consequently, it was a very painful experience for Sarah. Shortly after that a nurse came in and confirmed that Sarah was indeed in labor, so we could stay.

The next several hours passed in a blur. When you are in labor, but not fully dilated, they come in to check up on you, but nothing more than that. If they come in to check and you are fully dilated, then they call the doctor and the pushing commences. Otherwise they leave you to labor the way you want to, and offer suggestions if asked. Sarah preferred that I put counter-pressure on her back during a contraction, but other than that, she really didn't care what we did. We sat, laid down, walked the halls, used the labor ball, etc. Anything we could think of to break up the monotony, we did. And whenever Sarah had a contraction, I would immediately rush over and apply counter-pressure.

Around 7am or so (still no sleep for either Sarah or I), Ashley said she could handle things if I wanted to go eat. I was hungry so I went down to the cafeteria to grab a quick meal. On the way I grabbed my phone so I could call Sarah's mom, Denise. I had left her a text but she hadn't responded so I wanted to make sure she got it. She wanted to be there for the whole thing, and would probably have killed me if I hadn't informed her what was going on (for real, no exaggeration). I did wait til breakfast time, however, because I figured that someone should get some sleep, and it didn't look like Sarah was progressing very fast, so Denise wasn't in danger of missing anything.

The next few hours were a blur again, between putting pressure on Sarah's back, helping her walk or change positions or whatever, and keeping Denise informed (she waited in a nearby lounge). We noticed that as time went by Sarah became less responsive to suggestions to change position or try something else. Near the end she refused to do anything but sit in bed and rub her belly, right above her hips. She would talk, but it was an incoherent mumble. We knew she was exhausted, but she wanted to try without pain meds, so there was nothing we could do. We finally asked a nurse her opinion and she told us that she had never seen a patient as exhausted as Sarah was. She recommended that we try a painkiller that was like an epidural, which would allow Sarah to get some rest and be able to push when the time came. After taking it over with Sarah, I took her incoherent mumbled response as a “yes” and let the nurse drug her.

I didn't want to be in the room distracting Sarah from resting, so I went to the lounge and spent time with Denise. We decided to give the drugs 2 hours to work their magic, after which we would see how Sarah was feeling and either give her an epidural or give her more of the other drug depending on how she was doing. Denise and I had lunch and then I called my dad and sent out a mass text message letting people know that every thing was okay and that the baby would probably be born soon.

After the 2 hour time limit, we decided to go ahead with the epidural. The other drug wasn't quite enough for Sarah. Even though she looked and sounded a lot better, she wasn't ready to push out a baby. The anesthesiologist came up and put in the epidural, and then we played the waiting game. We were waiting to see if Sarah's water would break by itself or not. The doctor said that if it didn't break by 1:30pm, she would come in and pop it. It didn't break by the specified time and so the doc came in the make it happen. When she went in to pop it, she discovered that it had broken, it just hadn't leaked out very much. She then informed Sarah that it was time to push.

The epidural had worked a little too well on Sarah. She couldn't feel when she was contracting, and so had to rely on us to tell her. I, having spent the whole pregnancy declaring my intent to be by Sarah's head and not see any of the bloody mess below, found myself holding her leg and watching everything happen in real time (and even taking a few pictures). The baby was sitting very low. Sarah didn't have to push hardly at all and I could see a mess of hair. Because Sarah couldn't feel a thing, the doctor took Sarah's hand and guided it so she could feel the hair. After that it was about half an hour of us telling Sarah when to push until that screaming, slimy, gray baby was out and on her mom's chest.

Welcome to the world, Eleanor!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Swimming in Medical Bills"

One of my friends posted on Facebook how she's looking forward to the day that they aren't swimming in medical bills, and as I read it, I wished that we were. I wished that we could pay for Danni's heart surgeries (all three of them), for her -what I would assume would have been a long, long- stay in the CVCC, for her visits with her cardiologist, for her trips to the doctor, for her "well child" check ups. I thought about writing a comment to her post, but I'm never sure how people will take them. (Not that I'm usually that concerned with how people think I am handling the grief of loosing my daughter.) But I wanted it to come across as a "look at the bright side" comment, as she and her family are all still alive to talk about (and unfortunately pay) the medical bills. But instead, I find myself sharing it here on my blog that's not to often read (and I'm fine with that!), where she will probably not see it and think of the bright side and how much I wish I could be in her shoes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Christmas Letter

The Christmas Herald
6 Weddings & a Baby: 
The Gibson’s 2011 Year in Review
By Sarah Gibson, 
Edited by Adam, Danielle (19 months), & Eleanor (4 months)

Adam & I at his sister’s wedding in Chicago.
Our year started off with a secret that was hard not to mention in last year’s Christmas letter. (You’ll figure it out as you read on.)
January: We went up to Faith’s Lodge to spend a weekend together, and with other couples that had lost babies. We met 5 wonderful couples whose children are Danielle’s playmates in heaven. Later that month, we went to our first wedding, one of my childhood neighbors, Brandon, got married.
February: Not much noteworthy happened. We celebrated Valentine’s day, and I’m sure I bought a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s with green olives (yuck!) on half just for Adam. What a loving wife I am!
March: We babysat our niece, Addy, for a whole weekend, while her parents went to Chicago to work on planning their wedding.
April: Two weddings! Adam’s brother, Charles, got married to Kitty, and we were both in the wedding. Then at the end of the month, Adam’s cousin, Laura, got married to Steve as well.
May: Our softball season started with the Pros & Cons for the 3rd year. I wasn’t allowed to play, again, this year. While I am a good player (I played softball before joining the league, Adam did not), I was 6 months pregnant. We did miss a softball game when we went to Chicago for Adam’s sister, Jacque’s, wedding. I was a bridesmaid for Jacque, and Adam was a groomsman for Corey. Later that month, we also became the Godparents of Adam’s cousin, Daniel Joseph.
June: I finished my last day of school at Eagan High School, and with budget cuts, I lost my job again. So I began my job hunt, again. I would say that Adam has his last day of the school year, but he took summer classes all summer long, and also started working weekends for Pepsi. Then came out 5th wedding: Adam’s boss at UPS got married.
July: We attended our 6th wedding, the wedding of one of my grade school friends, Sarah. The next day, July 17th, Adam’s mom, Elisabeth Therese (Beth), lost her battle with cancer. This was her 3rd battle with it, and, sadly, it finally won out.
August: On August 12th, we welcomed our second daughter, Eleanor Elisabeth (named after my grandma, and Adam’s mom) to the world. We think she looks a lot like her big sister, Danielle. The week after she was born, we had our softball playoffs, and even though we lost the game, we considered it a win, since we didn’t get 10-runned (where the other team gets 10 more runs than you, and the ump calls the game in their favor, because you have no hope of winning).
September: Since I didn’t find a job, I became stay-at-home momma extraordinaire, and Adam went back to St. Thomas to continue his education to become an electrical engineer. At the end of the month, we had Nora baptized at St. Patrick’s Church.
October: Momma & Daddy had their first date night since Nora was born, and Grandma Denise & Grandpa Jack loved being able to babysit her. Then, of course, Nora dressed up for her first Halloween. She was the cutest skeleton you’ve ever seen!
Eleanor at 3 ½ months doing tummy time.
November: My mom, Nora, and I abandoned Adam and dad to take Nora out to Oregon on a plane to meet my mom’s family. Nora did very well on the plane, to my surprise.
December: We are eagerly waiting to celebrate Nora’s first Christmas and hope that you have a wonderful celebration with your family as well!

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