September 1, 2014

Wellness

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Since we lost Jackson, everybody has mentioned how important my "wellness" is.  I don't mean physical well-being, although being physically well is important, I'm talking about over all well-being.  I have to take care of myself.  I have to get through this.  I have to figure out how to keep going and be "well" again.  I've heard it from all of my doctors, my family, my friends, the blogs I read, etc.  I decided to focus on what "well" and being well even means anymore.

Does it mean pick myself up off the floor every day? Metaphorically speaking, of course.  I haven't once physically fallen to the floor with grief yet - although it feels like I have.

Does it mean stop crying? Does it mean get healthier?  Does it mean get pregnant again?  Does it mean cry whenever I want?  What does being well after the death of my baby look like?

I'm not one to be sad all the time, nor I am one to use my grief has an excuse for everything.  Sometimes it's very hard for me to understand whether or not this thing we have gone through is even a big deal or not?  No, wait, of course its a big deal!  It's a huge deal!  It's one of the most saddest things that can ever happen, right?  Wait...is it?  Am I just being over dramatic?  Should I just be over it by now?  I need to be get well, and be well.

SO, whatever it means, I know that in a situation like this, I have to take extra good care of myself.  If not, it could come back to bite me, and hard.  I'm a counselor, so I know all about mental breakdowns and PTSD and how tragedies in our lives can really cause debilitating emotions.  I cannot express how scared I am that one day soon, I am just going to breakdown or lose it.   PTSD usually hits about 3 months out from a tragedy.  Well, 3 months is just around the corner for me, on September 12th.  October could also be scary, since it's not ONLY my due date (the 21st) but also National Pregnancy Loss month AND the baby loss ceremony at our hospital (the 15th).  So while I usually love October and fall and all that wonderful-ness, I am terrified that this year it will be different.

I'm working very hard to combat the grief, and deal with my emotions head on, so that none of it will ever take me by surprise or "come back" and hurt me more.  I am doing OK, yes, but am I better?  Well, better is a bit of a stretch.  I am OK:)

As for my wellness, I am doing a lot of things to help me with that.  Physically, I want to be healthy and I want my body to be ready for another baby ASAP, so I am taking care of myself in that way.  I never want my body to fail me again, I never want it to kick another baby out, which is basically what happened.   I know, what happened is not my fault, and I didn't DO anything to hurt Jackson, I get that and I understand it, but I'm doing everything in my power to prevent it from happening again.  We joined the BAAC and I've been going and working out there a few times a week.  I use my Fitbit to track my activity and MyFitnessPal to track my calories religiously.  I'm not on a crazy journey to lose a million pounds or anything, and I love eating way too much to give up all food or be a crazy nut about what I eat, but I want to be healthier and I think those things are helping.

I've been keeping up on all doctor appointments, both with the OB and my endocrinologist, just keeping in touch and letting them know how things are going and they are helping me prepare for pregnancy again, whenever God believes we are ready.

Almost everyday I've been taking a walk.  Sometimes Dave goes with me.  Other times I go alone and listen to Oceans over and over and have some quiet time.  Almost every walk I am blessed with an amazing sunset - I love how the sky is set on fire by the setting sun - and sometimes I think Jackson 'gives' me these beautiful sunsets.  I know it sounds silly, but during this whole grief process so many people have asked if he has sent me signs.  At first, I felt sad because I didn't think he was sending me signs, and then I felt silly because...well, he is gone...he can't send me signs really, can he?  But, as I take these walks and see the sky, I feel him there.  So now I associate him with the sunset or the sunrise and the beautiful colors I see there.  Maybe it's God sending me these skies, and letting me know that Jackson is OK?  Maybe I'm just crazy?  It's totally possible, but the views are great nonetheless:)





Lily sends me signs too - my little lost baby twin.  I see her in butterflies.  I don't see her as often, but a month or two ago I was swimming at my brothers pool and saw the most beautiful butterfly and...well, again, I just felt her there.  I've seen a few dozen more since then, either on my walks or driving or out in our little garden.  We didn't know her well or have her long, but since I had that feeling I associate her with those precious little butterflies...

Anyways, these walks give me time to reflect and feel and all that good stuff.  I really have come to love them.  I walk in our neighborhood, which I used to think was dull and boring, but the skies I've seen make it exciting and sweet, because I think of my baby telling me he is ok and happy where he is.  It's been therapeutic.

I also try to get near a body of water as much as possible!  Whether that means going to the beach for the day, or driving down to Havre de Grace, I feel that I heal by the water.  I think the majesty of the ocean or the river or the bay helps my mind settle around life and how short it is, and where I fit into the whole scheme of the Universe.  It helps me realize that even though I have been through a tough time, life is actually full of tough times and we have to move on and better ourselves from those times - we can't go through life thinking we are immune to sadness or death because that is naive, and so I have to take whatever comes my way, deal with it, and move on.  It also helps me see that life is beautiful, no matter what happens.  There is beauty in sadness, there is even beauty in death.

I have also started seeing an acupuncturist and a chiropractor.  In my reading about grief and baby loss, quite a few women have suggested both of these specialists to help aid in grief AND in fertility.  I've been to acupuncturist twice already and I have to say I LOVE her.  She is sweet and understanding, she knows my whole story and treats me very specifically for my needs.  It doesn't hurt a bit, and I can honestly say I have been feeling very peaceful and so less anxious than usual because of her.  The treatments usually take about an hour each time, and the pins go in different places each time I am there, so she leaves me be and I use the time to relax and pray and I can feel my grief and pain being released and my energy growing.  It's kind of amazing!  I start seeing the chiropractor this week.  My acupuncturist suggested I do both together, because both treatments sort of support the other - aligning the body and releasing pain and creating energy.

Dave & I are also being very specific and particular about making sure we spend quality time together.  A few times over the summer it felt like he and I were on different planets - I dealt with my grief by hiding in our room and reading, while he dealt with his by watching TV or sports in another room.  We'd be home together, but completely separate.  This is normal for us sometimes, and usually ok because we have different interests, but we were doing this way too much and not being purposeful about spending QT together.  We course corrected and now we make sure we are not only going on our out to eat dates, but also doing things together at home like watching a movie or playing a game or something like that.  I was afraid he didn't want me to talk about the baby and how broken I feel sometimes, but after a complete breakdown in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, we talked about it and he told me I had to talk to him about it all so he would know and understand me better.

Another part of being well is taking time to actually deal with the grief.  I do this by writing, and by reading other blogs written by bereaved moms.  I do this by participating in bereavement related things, like a support group, and online celebrations.  Just a few weeks ago I joined the Day of Hope on 8/19, which was really awesome and powerful and healing.  I've been picked to participate in a study of how yoga helps with grieving and baby loss, and that has been very helpful.  I've been contacted by a few other moms that are interested in writing movies and books around baby loss, and agreed to participate in a few of those projects, should they need me.  I also do this by working on a baby book - yes even though I do not have a physical baby here with me, I want to remember every little detail from my pregnancy with Jackson and Lily.  There were good times, exciting times, and really good memories with them and I want to have them and treasure them forever, so I am working on a book.  It's sad, but it helps me work through my sadness and understand it.  This is a feeling that will stay with me for the rest of my life, I can't ignore it.  So I embrace it.

I also stay well by trying to get back to normal life.  I am enjoying the distraction of work, and getting back into the swing of school and counseling.  It was so awesome seeing all of my work friends this past week, and the faces of those little kiddos.  I remembered why I love my job.  I get to help others, and possibly make a positive impact on someone, and I really enjoy thinking about those possibilities.  I have a new sense of direction for my work this year, and some great motivation thanks to some of my counseling co-workers AND my fellow Squirrels.  I really think it's going to be a great year at Hickory!

Being well for me means cutting down on time on social media.  I love Facebook and Instagram and all of that, but I found myself getting really upset over things on these sites over the summer.  Honestly, social media can be whatever each individual wants it to be, what we put there is a personal and FREE choice, but in my sad state I just couldn't emotionally or mentally handle some of the information that went up there.  I found myself (bitterly) saying to the computer, "Well at least you didn't lose a baby!" and after the 100th time of saying that I thought, "Hmmm, maybe I need to take a break from all of this...I'm being too emotional or too judgmental or too harsh."  So I've taken Facebook off my phone and iPad, and only allow myself to get on maybe once a day or so on our computer.  It's been really nice to unplug actually, so I can tell that it was the right step in my journey to wellness.

I'm also staying well by getting our house in order again.  And being creative.  And organizing.  And all of those things that I've always loved doing.  I even made a fall wreath tonight!  My first real creative contribution to the house in a loooooooooong time.  It's pretty cute, I think:)



So what is well-being after baby loss?  Maybe it's picking myself up each day.  Maybe it's learning how to smile again.  Maybe it's this new cliche-but-true feeling that I appreciate life so much more now, and see the beauty in things that I never gave a moments pause before?  Whatever it is, I'm working towards it, and I am doing so in honor of Jackson and Lily who are watching over me, safe and happy in Heaven.  I am going to be well!

Oh and here are two very sweet pictures I had made in honor of the babies - I can't wait to get them printed and hung in our home!


Jackson's picture is a beautiful, soft sunset with a heart and this sweet quote that couldn't be more true.  I carried him for 5 short and sweet months.  I carry his heart in mine forever.


And of course Lily, she got a butterfly along with some pretty and fiery sunset colors.  My little baby gone at 8 weeks, a twin that surprised us and for those short 5 minutes we thought we would have her, our lives were changed forever.  My first loss, sweet little Lily.