Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stories of Hope - Jodie's Story 17

And so with that the journey was over right?

WRONG!  The worst of it was over but now I had find my way back to normal.  The problem was that normal was gone or maybe I should say the old Jodie and normal for her was gone.  Finding my new normal would take months…well maybe years in all honesty…and would take some very painful moments and steps along the way. 

It’s said that there are five stages of grief, denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think I flitted from stage to stage in the beginning but then entered a mode of acceptance, for the time being, while I was in the hospital waiting for the boys to arrive.  Now that they were here I found my emotions ranged from disbelief to deep sadness. It was surreal feeling to have Cameron in the hospital and all of us at home. It's like I was never pregnant and nothing in our family had changed. It was almost as if none of the last 3 months has happened and yet I was filled with such sadness at times that it was all I could do to not burst into tears. I met so many other families in the NICU who were amazed by my strength and courage but I didn't feel like I was strong, rather that I had just done what I had to do. I didn't have a choice because if I had, it wouldn't have been to lose Cole and spend months in the hospital. How did that make me strong??? In those moments I seemed to be in the stage of grief marked by all kinds of questions and just didn't understand why this had to happen. I felt that in time, and with the support of my family and friends, those sad moments would not seem so overwhelming but I knew that they would never go away and I would never stop missing the baby I never got to know.

I have often said I never got angry, never hit the angry stage but I know, now, as I explore this and remember things that I was angry at times.  I remember beating my hands against my bed and sobbing into my pillow in the early days but I also remember asking, angrily, loud why I had to go through this. If I was only meant to have one of my twins home with me then why did I have to have a twin pregnancy in the first place...why did I need to experience this pain and loss???  I am not sure who I raged this against…the greater universe?  God?  I don’t know.  I just know it was a pretty dark time in my life. I spent a lot of time ignoring my life….letting things go in the house, spending hours thinking, reading things online, trying to find similar stories and similar minded friends.  My life around me, my family, my friends, my community, my home…none of this seemed to be as important was the people I met online who understood. 

When people would ask how I was I often said ok.  I never quite knew what to say because I really wasn’t good nor was I fine. I was missing a part of my family and didn’t know how to deal with that at times. I wasl lost, confused, angry, sad, grateful, joyful, faithful and hopeful. What a mixed bag of tricks I was.  I just couldn't get it into my head why this had happened. I rationalized sometimes that it was because I wasn't jumping for joy about having twins...not at the start anyway. But I wanted my babies, I wanted to make it work, I wanted to be that 'twin mommy'...the one people stopped in the store to admire their beautiful children who looked exactly alike. I got so mad at myself for the feelings I had when I read the TTTS success stories, it seemed so cruel of me not to feel joy that others don't have to go through this and I know it could be so much worse...I could have lost them both. But somehow that never brought me peace at this point in the journey. 

Sometimes I would look at the ultrasound pictures and the tears rolled down my cheeks. It hardly seemed fair that those two little boys would never play together, never snuggle up on my lap together for a story or two, never join their big brothers for a 4 man pile up on Daddy and never share a birthday cake together each year.

I often wondered how Cameron would feel about this.  Would he miss the brother he knew for 22 weeks, the one he grew with, kicked at, bumped into and comforted in his final unborn babies have that sense? I was comforted by thoughts that Cole's spirit would  always be with Cameron, guiding him and strengthening him.

But oh how I missed Cole and I struggled to find good things to think of.  I was overwhelmed, at times, with memories of that fateful day. I don’t think I was on that ultrasound bed for more than 2 minutes when the doctor told us that he was sorry, our baby had passed away. I remember saying no over and over again and feeling like all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. At the time it didn’t even seem to matter to me much that the doctor was telling us that Cameron was okay, all I could think about was that one of my children was dead and I was never going to get to hold him, kiss him or marvel at the miracle of his life. I was consumed with all the things we would miss out on. I wanted so much for Cole and Cameron. I wanted to see them grow up together, to do the things that twins do together. To watch them communicate without saying a word. I wanted to dress them the same in matching overalls and watch them play outside in the sandbox. It felt so unfair that I never got to do that. But it seemed even more unfair that Cameron would never get to know his twin either.

Sometimes I wanted to be angry at God but it never seemed to come to that. I think I was finally getting it that sometimes crappy things just happen, that it isn’t His will to have a baby angel in heaven, that it isn’t that this was His plan, but rather it just happened for no good reason. Now God was here to hold us all, to comfort us and to look after my little one up there in Heaven.

My peace at this time came from believing that Cole was with us all, especially Cameron.  I knew he would always be in my heart but most especially, that he would always be in Cameron’s heart and be a part of Cameron. For now, I felt, my heart was broken and battered. It would heal though, over time. It was like a puzzle and all of my children would always have a piece of that puzzle. It would only be a whole heart if Zackary, Brycen, Cameron and Cole’s parts were there…and so they are all there, forever with me for the rest of time. Each part will have different emotions attached to it at different times. Cole’s might always have the sad emotion but that was okay because without all four of those parts my heart would not be whole.

I knew I would get through this, I knew that because I’d made it this far and had been blessed by the love and strength of a God who never fails me and the support of so many people I didn’t know loved me so much. Although I appreciated it all, learning to trust God and to accept Jesus into my heart did not begin at all really until a few months after my survivor and angel were born... as I planned the service to say goodbye to our little boy. In preparation for what I would say a friend had suggested I read a book by a woman named Jenny Hander, likely the first person to really deeply influence my faith journey. Jenny had also been expecting identical twins when TTTS reared its ugly head and caused her twins to arrive before 27 weeks.  She was in a much different place in her faith journey but so much of what she wrote about resonated with me.  What really hit home for me then was her writing about needing to let one of her twins go, to accept her death and the survival of her twin sister as part of God’s plan. She was a woman of immense faith, a strong Christian and yet she struggled to say goodbye to her daughter, to stop praying for God to return her to be with her family. Her final acceptance came when she was finally able to find peace, comfort and hope in the loss of her daughter because she knew that , by following the teachings of Jesus, by being the strong Christian that she was, she would see her daughter in Heaven. This was God’s plan for her and it was ok... she would see her little girl again. And suddenly I became so very fearful that I would not see my son again, that I was not doing a good job and that my place in Heaven was, by no means, secure. 
That day I knelt down and I prayed and begged Jesus to forgive me for all my sins, most especially what my struggles to accept and grieve were doing to my family, to my children. I knew nothing about what it meant to come to Christ but I think that was the first day of the rest of my life so to speak.

After this I seemed able to look at this next part of our journey, saying goodbye publicly, with a greater sense of hope.  I won’t share all of what I shared at Cole’s Memorial Service but this was my ending….

At one point I had said I wanted to turn back time and change everything.  I’m not sure I still feel the same way.  Don’t get me wrong, I wish that I could go back and prevent Cole from losing his life to TTTS.  But would I change everything…….. not on your life.  This experience has given me such an insight into life.  I appreciate my family more, I love my family more.  I’ve met some amazing people on this journey that I likely wouldn’t have if I’d never been on this journey in the first place and who wouldn’t have been so important to me if we hadn’t have lost Cole.  I also wouldn’t have learned about the amazing family and friends we have, I wouldn’t have learned what true friends are.  I continue to be amazed by the love and support we’ve received since the very first day we learned of Cole and Cameron’s existence.  The phone calls and visits, the emails and messages, the food dropped off, the money and other gifts to help us with our expenses, the help with Zack and Brycen, the places to stay, food to eat, things to help me pass my time and the words…words of encouragement, support, love, understanding, compassion and hope. 

I told a very very special person a few weeks ago that I never knew how much it could hurt to be a mom but that I also never knew how wonderful it could feel to be a daughter, a sister, a friend, a neighbour.  This journey has shown me that and none of it would be a part of our lives if we changed everything.   And if we changed everything then Cameron might not be a part of our lives either…because without Cole there is no Cameron and without Cameron there is no Cole.

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