body issues

After Logan died, I had serious misgivings about my body. It had failed me in everywhere.

I would look at Josh and wonder how could he value someone who couldn’t give him the one thing my body is supposed to do. The one job a woman’s body does that makes her unique. I would look pregnant women with envy and unease. Their swollen belly proved worthy while mine felt useless. I would watch my husband and wonder if he longed for a woman who could give him what I could not.

I looked in the mirror everyday, seeing the leftovers from my pregnancy. While I only gained 15 pounds while pregnant with Logan, what I saw in the mirror was havoc wreaked over my body. I would force myself to work out, disdained by the fact I could not function like I once could. I’d see these other women in the gym functioning at the level I once could. And for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t. My body looked different, but nothing had changed. No baby at home to tell me to slow down and give my body grace. So instead I beat myself into failure and stop working out, being left empty, alone and depressed. This cycle continued for 2 years. And each failure swept over me, shrouding my eyes, I would crawl deeper into my rabbit hole.

One day, I snapped, no longer able to bear the weight of life. We discussed therapy, and begrudgingly I went. I’ve known for a long time that I needed to go, but the very thought of discussing the emotional baggage that Logan left me with, was so beyond exhausting and complicated that I shied away in fear.

After a few weeks of therapy, I’ve begun to feel alive again. I can see joy in mundane things. I have gotten completely lost in Logan’s birth video and surprising myself, floated to the surface instead of sinking.

I had an idea. I would stop putting the weight of being who I was before Logan. And take exercise back to basics. Something easy and that I could enjoy. As mundane as it sounds, I’ve past the three week mark that I usually dropped out. In fact, I’m beginning week 6, the final week of my program. I’ve lost 2″ all over. I see a vibrant life in me.

I’m excited, and in a way I feel healing. I see myself in that mirror. I’m not sure what I see, but failure isn’t hanging over me.

mother’s day – half a mother

What is Mother’s Day, to a woman who is only half a mother? 

This year, it seems as if Mother’s Day has approached silently. I knew it was coming, but yet I didn’t. Josh asked what I wanted, to which I replied I simply wanted the dog’s cages out of Logan’s room and it put back in order. Unwilling to wait until tomorrow, I removed the dog’s belongings and restored his room to what was, except for his chair which will be brought back in tomorrow. But now I sit here, with a beer, unable to leave the room. I feel tethered, to nothing in particular. I just can’t bring myself to leave the room. I look at his belongings around the room and I begin to feel the weight of what will be missing tomorrow. 

I have to admit, I have not been surviving well the past several months. And if I’m being honest with myself, the past 2 years since Logan died. I have self-reflected more than I care to count, and I think in the beginning I was “strong” because everyone needed me to be. The boys weren’t functioning and somebody needed to be a firm foundation. So I provided that. My friends and family struggled watching me grieve and recoiled at the mention of Logan’s name or any confirmation that I was not the “strong” force that I had been presenting. I feel as if I walk around with this flashing neon sign that says “her baby died” and everyone knows. Everyone is watching. They tip-toe around the normal things in their lives for fear of how I will react. So I put on a brave face, I be strong for them, because they can’t be strong for me. And I would do anything to just be treated like a normal person with normal problems. I endure their insensitive comments about their ratty children, bastard husband, baby mama drama, the unwanted pregnancies; all of it, with a kind smile, I tell them it’s okay. 

Last year we celebrated Logan’s 1st birthday and I think that was the first time the box broke open. I felt emotions I didn’t know I still contained. After a few months, I was able to fold the lid back down and shove the box aside. I didn’t have the energy to sift through what lies in that box. But the downward spiral never stopped. I’m good at putting on a brave face. So most don’t know, and those who do, could never fathom the depth I was falling into. I also master the art of distractions. I have given myself lists, gotten involved in a number of groups, run Wyatt all across town for his activities, work trips, etc. All keep my mind occupied. I can’t sit still for fear of what will consume me. When idle time appears I read a book or watch tv. 

The past few months the lid to that box has started to bulge. It’s not in the corner anymore, but in my lap. I’ve been pushing down this lip for so long, I’m so tired. Two weekends ago, I returned from KMOM. I was excited to see my husband. I walked in the door and was smacked with an anxiety attack that popped that lip open. Everything came spilling out of that box like an explosion. Nothing I did would put it back. I sat on the laundry room floor and cried for half an hour, just done. And life has not gotten any easier since that day. I’m more aware, but empty. 

I’ve spent 2 years searching for God, holding onto this hope that I knew there was an end, an other side to all this grief, fear, anxiety and turmoil. That if I just kept ahold of that hope, I would find my way through this forest that constantly threatened to consume me. Looking back now, all I see is myself walking blind through a forest with no trail. No matter where I turn, I’m cut by thorns, bruised by a rock  and ultimately falling off the cliff. I’m left desperately wondering, what is the point? 

I have been under constant anxiety attacks 95% of day, every day. The adrenaline I feel sporadically running through my body only spikes the fear I already live with. With each pump of my heart brings paranoia, fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty. And I’m just left feeling broken. I have no desire to function in this life, and I’m beginning to wonder what the life that follows this one. Many times I have thought, “I could just leave, everything, and walk away.” I love my family, but I have hold here. 

So as I sit here in Logan’s room, looking at his stuff, that hole grows bigger. The ache grows stronger. I was listening to the radio yesterday, a woman called in complaining because of the gift her husband got her for Mother’s Day. I wanted to slap her. Your children are your gift, today and everyday. You may hate them from time to time, but they are your gift. They can be taken at any time. And you take that for granted every single day. I can’t even remember what it felt like to hold my child in my arms. All I have are his belongings to cling to. That is my gift. 

So what is Mother’s Day to a woman who is half a mother? This year, it’s brokenness. This year is fear. Loneliness. Crippling anxiety. Barrenness. Unworthiness. 

unfair

You want to know what is unfair?

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who is tarnished.

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who doesn’t know who she is. 

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who doesn’t understand faith.

It is unfair that people in this world can live so blindly in joy and love.

It is unfair that you can just spend the rest of your life not having to question everything you do.

It is unfair that I have to spend every day wondering when I will cry next.

It is unfair that the simplest of things will take me back to some of the worst days of my life. 

It is unfair that you get to look at your child every day.

It is unfair that you get to take pictures at your child’s prom, graduation and wedding.

It is unfair that you will get to see your child live on through your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It is unfair that you get to use your newborn baby or toddler as an excuse not to do something.

It is unfair when you say at least you have a child at home. 

It is unfair when you say at least you can have another one. 

It is unfair that I have to look at my husband and wonder if he sees failure when he looks at me. 

And it is unfair when you say it’s God’s plan. 

their pregnancies

When friends get pregnant, I feel as if they begin to disappear. Doesn’t matter how close our friendship is or was. By birth, I couldn’t tell you when the last time we talked or met was. 

I’m on my third pregnant friend now, who has seemed to walk a path leading away from our friendship. I’ve always thought that I have given them understanding with how hectic and exhausting their lives become once pregnancy joins their journey. Especially since they’re previous pregnancies left them with empty arms. 

Perhaps I become a burden to them? I honestly don’t know. But it leaves me perplexed. I try not to make my journey apart of anyone else. Perhaps that’s why my healing has suffered so much. But it truly saddens me. To have been so close to someone, who truly understood the realm of my rabbit hole. Someone who can understand what another pregnancy means to those around you. 

In no way do I want their light and joy to be dampened by my emotions. I’m so happy for them. Jealous, too. I think jealousy will always be there. Jealousy because they knew what they wanted. Jealousy because they were brave enough to make a decision. Jealousy because they chose to have another baby. Jealousy because it’s all decisions I can’t wholeheartedly make. 

But nevertheless joy. Joy because I love them dearly. Joy because I wouldn’t want more harm to come for them. Joy because their joy brings me joy. Joy because I get to watch them grow. Joy because no matter what, I love babies. 

So why, has this happened 3 times? Are they just so caught up in their own lives to realize I’m not there? Am I taking it too personal? Although I don’t know how not to, when I’m told via FB instead of in person. When they assume I’m on FB enough to even see their announcement. Shouldn’t close friends be able to share this kind of news with you on a more personal level? If you’re journeys were truly entwined, wouldn’t they notice you weren’t there for such big moments? 

The first 2 made me angry. My feelings were hurt. They did exactly what they said they wouldn’t do. This 3rd pregnancy has just left me feeling hurt, misunderstood and alone. 

Everyday I feel as if Logan no longer matters. Decisions others make leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a scar on my heart. My defensive wall screams to be thrown back up. 

How do I learn to cope with other friends pregnancies that undoubtedly surround me everyday? How do I begin to normalize pregnancy again when the ones who understood what pregnancy means to a loss mom, left during the healing phase? 

In my mind it leaves me feeling as if I’m not important. Our friendship wasn’t as cherished as I thought. And Logan only mattered until something bigger came along. Nothing will ever be bigger than Logan, because to me his life mattered. 

But perhaps this all just in my head. Perhaps my view of life is skewed. And my ability to make sound decisions and conclusions are blurred. 

Perhaps they stepped away from me, because I’m a painful reminder. Perhaps my presence makes their journey more difficult or awkward. Perhaps they can’t be themselves around me anymore for fear of my journey. 

Who knows. But it sucks. 

christmas: year two

I don’t know what I expected from Christmas this year. Between stretching our spending on the million obligations we somehow managed to get tied down to, December went olympic speed fast. Here one minute, gone the next. Before I really even had time to digest what was happening, the event was over. 

We didn’t include Logan this year. Whether out of healing or out of rushed forgetfulness I’m unsure. Lately, he’s become an afterthought. Which I think only pushes me further down the ridiculous ladder I’m trying to climb. It’s good right? That I’m not dwelling on the fact my son is no longer here? Then why does it feel as if I’m failing because he wasn’t a before thought? Or even an in-the-moment thought? We did include him in Christmas family photos, so I guess there’s that…

The day leading up to Christmas, I began to feel crummy and the days that have followed, leave me feeling like I’ve been hit by a freight train. Feeling as if I am literally trapped in my own body has given me lots of time to ponder, or perhaps a lot of time to try and not to ponder. I try to avoid it a lot most days. I’ve been overwhelmed a few times with emotion. My cousin just had a baby. And while I thoroughly enjoy looking at his cute pictures, it always leaves me with an ache. Logan would almost be two this Christmas season. And we forgot him. 

I’m come to this conclusion in my life: I’m broken. Logan broke me, and I will always be broken. Everyone says that God will fill this gaping hole. And while I believe God fills a lot of things, I don’t think He can put these pieces back together. Not because he is unable, but simply because I don’t think it’s meant to be. I wouldn’t be the person I am without Logan. I wouldn’t make the decision I do without my brokenness. And I’m willing to gamble 75% of the time, I’m lost in my head, in my brokenness. And sometimes, that 75% doesn’t respond well to the outside world. 

As I lay in the bath now, trying to ease this congestion.. to tease these barriers down that have left me feeling trapped in my body.. I see the battle scares left from Logan’s brief stay. It reminds me of the operating room. Picturing it now in my head, I see their faces, not specifically unique, but blurs of faces. And they look sad. Sad for what was about to happen to us. To every visitor that came to our room. The hospice nurse who visited everyday and had to witness the destruction of my body and soul along with Logan’s. The faces I see each and everyday since, that react because of Logan. The faces that watch my every move unsure if I’m really surviving. 

I look at my body and I feel pity. From myself and from others around me. There is this invisible neon sign flashing around my neck notifying everyone in radius of me, that my body failed. That my body is weak and scarred. That I am in some way tainted. I tell myself there is beauty and bravery in those scars. And while the mind can be a beautiful thing, it is equally as cruel. 

This Christmas, while I have not cried, I have managed to forget to honor my son’s memory, forgot to buy both my boys their annual christmas ornament and left him home alone while we visited family. I’m going to repeat this mantra and hope it sticks “He is in my heart forever, but not always at the forefront. But the pain that lingers reminds me of how loved he truly is.”

thanksgiving: the second year

This year has been a lot different than last year. I don’t cry as often and to the eye I appear to have it all together. However as the year has progressed I have found myself consistently dead locked in ‘hot mess express.’ My mind is jello most days, occasionally some pineapples or oranges cruise by adding a little firmness to my brain. Half the time I don’t know where my keys or my phone is. Most days I can’t even remember what ‘after school’ responsibilities Wyatt has. I get home and sit on the couch unsure of how to progress with the evening, aside from fixing dinner; my mind is just blank. 

My walk with God is… well by definition I guess a stumbling walk. Some days I’m there, I get it. It makes perfect sense. The next day I don’t know how to make any of it fit. It’s like I’m trying to squeeze my size 10 beliefs into a coveted size 8. I keep trying, I stumble, and then I try again. 

In some ways I feel like I’m worse off than when Logan died, or even a year ago. I could process things. I could focus. I had so much more faith and understanding in God. And now, there are more clouds and gray area’s that sometimes I simply don’t know. I feel emotions that don’t make sense. Someone can ask me a simple question and my response is in no way warranted. 

In all that, I look at this picture and think, “but this..”

Last year for Thanksgiving we tried not to give much thought into it. We didn’t really even know what to do. This year, I knew it would just be the 4 of us. This year I knew I wanted to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner like I’d had for so many years growing up. This year I wanted to make our own traditions. I wanted all the comforts of childhood and new alike. 

I am not a cook. I usually stick to a simple baked or crockpot dish on a regular basis. As you can see we had a full menu. And while everyone said we had way too much food for just us, my response is: It was 100% worth it. I stayed up until 2am prepping, got up at 6am this morning and finished cooking. And you know what, I did it all. Me, loss mom, brain of  of mush, made an entire Thanksgiving meal. 

I had so much anxiety yesterday about this meal. I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted to impress my family. I wanted them to be proud and enjoy the meal I made. To enjoy the new traditions we were setting out. I wanted Logan to be proud that we were honoring family time. I wanted it to tell like family time again. Instead of a day of sadness. I can’t express the emotions I feel, looking at that full table, with my boys. Eating the overwhelming amounts of food. Proud that I did it. Proud that my son tried everything I made simply because I made it. Proud because I know Logan would be happy we did it this way. Proud because even know there are only 3 plates on the table when there should be 4, we still are able to find the joy in the day.  Proud because instead of falling apart this year, we cried a few tears, accepted what is, and moved forward. 

This feast represents so much more than just food. It’s family. It’s the accomplishment of my mushy brain. For a few hours I was able to maintain clarity. 

healing

the following quotations come from the book Univited by Lysa TerKeurst

“We’re all desperate to anchor our souls to something we can trust won’t change.”

-For the longest time this was always God. He had never failed me while everyone else around me had. After Logan I clung to Josh. He was unchanging for me. He was an anchor that had not betrayed me, had not hurt me. I knew I could hold firmly to him and nothing as traumatic as Logan’s death could come from him. While I still cling to Josh because he’s my best friend whom I literally tell every thought I have to, he’s not my anchor. I’m not entirely sure I can say God is my anchor either. I guess you could say, just continuing to move is my anchor. Not giving up on my faith, my life, everything would be my anchor. As I’m journeying through this healing with God, I’m learning that God does not change, but our understanding of who God is does. And I’m trying to anchor to that. But it’s a process, it’s not as easy as 123 as they’d have you believe at church. ‘Say this prayer and all will be well.’ While that is true in the sense of your eternal soul, life here on earth is not well. God is so much more than, do this and this and this and you will be perfectly held. Nope! If that were true, my baby wouldn’t have died, my friends wouldn’t have lost their children, I wouldn’t have lost friends, and the list can go on. 

“I don’t have to know all the whys and what-ifs. All I have to do is trust.”

-Well trust is an easy thing to break and a hard thing to regain. At least if you are me. I have always trusted God full force with no second thoughts, until Logan. I never needed to know the why’s or what-ifs. I simply trusted God was God, He knew what He was doing and I was perfectly okay with that. Until trauma visited my home. Until trauma gave me a reason to doubt His trust. Until trauma forced me to need the whys and what-ifs. Today, I no longer feel the need to know what-if. I know Logan is in Heaven and I can’t argue that a life here would be better. I’ve made peace with that. The need to know why I think will forever circle me. I will probably spend the rest of my life searching for new why’s because the ones I come to understand won’t ever fully satisfy. But I also have the understanding swimming around that one day I will know all the why’s and I will make peace with that.

“Proximity and activity don’t always equal connectivity.”

-Well.. have you ever felt like you were in a crowded room but don’t feel anything? Most of my recovery felt this way. Well so did my pregnancy. Many times I’d be at an appointment and they were all so nice given our situation. Very attentive. But their attentiveness didn’t penetrate the chaos consuming my insides. It only met the surface. I appreciated their kindness, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t leave me feeling understood. I was surrounded by people when we delivered in the hospital, even being prayed over right before they took me back, but it didn’t touch the inside. We were surrounded by support at Logan’s funeral, but I can’t even remember half the people that were there. And I just remember thinking how many people do I have to hug? Aren’t they done yet? Touching required so much energy I didn’t have to give. I didn’t feel connected or loved. I just felt it was the thing to do. Let me give them what they need, as they are struggling and crying. Let me satisfy their hunger for love and understanding and let me show them it’s okay to cry for my baby. I can sit in a grief group and feel utterly alone because I view my trauma differently from theirs. Surrounded by people who could potential understand why I act the way I do, why I think the things I do and all I feel is alone because they can’t possibly understand what I went through, with their situations and circumstances so very different from mine. 

“And in the rawest moments of honest hurting, God doesn’t add up.”

-How could a loving God allow such trauma. For the longest time I believed God took my son and that doesn’t add up. Why does a loving God who has loving promises knit a baby in my womb with a defect? And then why does he cause him to die? When he stands there with all the power to make his head whole? In my rawest moments of hurting, I have said so many unkind things to God. From shut up, to leave me the fuck alone. I believe God sees beyond those hateful words and sees the pain pulling those strings that lead to lashing out. I had a vision once, it was the oddest thing, I was driving back to work on the highway and all of the sudden I seen me before God in a room, I have fallen to my knees not out of respect as one would think, but out of traumatic broken grief. Instead of being able to communicate, I broke and crumpled on the floor at his feet. I could feel the anger and raw pain reeking off my body, and I remember God standing there in acknowledgement. And as I came out of that, I remember thinking, I’m okay meeting God this way. 

“I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” -Psalm 23

“What can mere people do to me?” – Hebrews 13

-Verses like these hit my core. After losing Logan, the worst suffering I’ve experienced so far in my life, I tend to look through these “what you got?” lenses. You think you not showing up for my dead son’s birthday will break me? Pssssshht. While it hurts and friendship was tainted, it doesn’t compare. What more could be done that hasn’t already debilitated me? 

“I fight for her simply because I want to stay right in step with honoring God.”

-Do I continue to fight for the relationships lost during my journey? Some I did, heavily. Some I was too exhausted and annoyed by this deflating pattern. As I read this in my book, one friendship stuck out. At first I felt convicted to reach out to her and repair whatever needed repairing. Realizing she had deleted me from Facebook and announced another pregnancy, all the while keeping me in the dark; breaking a sacred promise she had made after Logan died. Realizing her youngest son was growing up and I was no longer being included. Remembering all they had done for us while we were suffering. But as I re-read this sentence several weeks later, I instead feel convicted to forgive her and so many other relationships lost. Not simply for them, but for me, for my family and for our healing. Not all friendships are meant to last forever. My hope is that while I’m processing forgiveness, I will learn to appreciate what they gave me in our time of friendship. Instead of feeling anger towards them, I will try and process understanding and want nothing but good for their futures. I used to say ‘I hope nobody treats them the way they did us,’ in reference to their exiting our journey. But now, through my own healing, I can say that sentence with sincerity as opposed to malice. I sincerely hope they never endure our grief, and i would hope they have a force of friendship behind them that stands firm until the end. I try to feel this without envy. Envy because we don’t have many relationships that withstand the storms in our life. I don’t want my hurt to be someone elses.

And for the friendships that became acquaintances, the ones who no longer speak on a personal level on personal time, but I watch through social media enduring wonderful life changes, I’m trying to learn grace. To not give in to the disdain, hurt and rejection I feel. To instead follow my guidelines above to try and be thankful for what our past friendship provided. But I won’t lie to you, the first few posts I would read and try to force genuine care and joy and ebb out the annoyance. With each passing one I would read less and less becoming more annoyed until I completely skipped over it altogether. I’m trying to teach myself I can stand back and be happy for them and remove myself from it altogether. It’s my inner hurts from Logan and my unanswered desires coupled with their lack of communication that causes my pain. Ultimately I own that pain. I can decide how I chose to feel about each situation. 

“But what’s downright horrible is when God seems to just silently stand by, withholding answers and solutions for which you’ve cried out. That deep hurt can make you question His goodness.”

-If I ever had to pick key phrases that summarize my journey this would probably make the top five. Almost 2 years later, God and I are still in a standoff. Can you imagine an old western pistol draw in the streets? I can. Who is going to whip their pistol out first? God on one side with his confidence so high He bears no armor. On the opposite I stand so broken I’ve put on everything possible to protect myself. Anger, pain, trust, understanding, betrayal, annoyance, grief all fill the vastness between us. Both beyond ready to draw and pull that trigger. Pain and blame. Love and understanding. I’ll let you decide who is carrying what. Who will penetrate first? Will God find that gap in my heavily covered armor? I’ve cried out to God so many times in so many ways in the last 2 years. I’ve hurled javelins and knifes of anger, disbelief and trust trying to penetrate his unexisting armor. Instead of it being deflected by his armor, he absorbs it. All of it. No matter the volume of hurls, he absorbs it all without any back blow. God and I remain in this standoff. Periodically hurling things at each other. Occasionally when I look down at my armor, I find a piece missing. 

“My heart struggles to make peace between God’s ability to change hard things and His apparent decision not to change them for me.”

-Again this sentence will probably make my top 5. This is super powerful for me. As it shows my acknowledgement that I have faith in God’s ability but lack the understanding of his decision, which lead me to my previous illustration. I’ve never doubted his love for Logan and us. Nor have I ever doubted he could heal Logan. I spent several months waiting for his healing. Having faith that each doctor’s appointment would show that healing and my reward for continued hope and faith. When it never came I tried to hold my grasp on God, while my traumatic grief began to beat that grasp until my mangled heart and hands could no longer withstand the beatings.

Today I still struggle with this sentence. My heart and hands are healing, as they’re trying to work through this maze to find God’s hand again. With hopes that our grasp will be stronger than before. That we will have created an understanding how to maneuver the beatings to lessen the impact.