Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stories of Hope - Jodie's Story 18

Merry Christmas Everyone!  I sure hope you aren't reading this today.... well unless it's after you've opened all the presents, ate all the food, lived, laughed and loved on this day of our saviour's birth!
I've really enjoyed sharing this blogging project with you...and I'm not done.  I'm going to try to keep going until the most important parts of the story are told...when hope was found in Jesus in such a big way.... it's months from where we are in the story but I'll get there.

And so life continued with a premature, need baby and two rowdy growing boys.  Life was busy and that was good.  But as time moved forward I found I wasn’t moving with it.   Tears came pretty easy at times because the more fun Cameron was and the less work he was the more I realized (and had time to realize) how much we had lost.  I was missing Cole so much those days and wished so much that things could be different.  It just seemed so unfair.  I tried to tell myself that it could be so much more unfair as the reality of how close we came to losing Cameron too was always there.  Most days that helped a lot but sometimes even that couldn't stop me from being really sad and frustrated.

Our home life was very up and down emotionally. I am sure Geoff was very frustrated when he would come home from work and find me at the computer with no supper made or very little done.  My focus was on connecting with others and looking after the boys but it wasn’t on him.  I’m sure we fought a lot in those days but I honestly don’t remember it being that bad then.  What I do remember was Geoff being distant and exhibiting some strange behavior.  I brushed it off for a long time but one day, while doing some banking and paying bills, I discovered a pattern of withdrawals from the bank by Geoff that I didn’t understand.  When I confronted him he didn’t understand either.  Well actually he understood and could remember taking money out but he had no memory of how much or where he spent it at times.  He also couldn’t account for gaps of time.  I became very concerned and turned, of course, to Dr. Google.

After reading and number of articles online and doing some online quizzes we both felt he was exhibiting some symptoms of some mental health disorders and knew that we needed to take this information and observations to our doctor.  Within a few days we saw her and she diagnosed him, unofficially, as bi-polar and referred him to a psychiatrist. 
He began seeing this psychiatrist and started a cocktail of meds that should help.  Though he saw this doctor and a few others over the course of the next months, the dramatic change I hoped for didn’t come.  But atleast we had answers right, at least we knew what was wrong.  Or so we thought.  It would be YEARS before the right diagnosis and right help would come.  In the meantime we just kept tiptoeing forward…and tip toeing around each other.

 I was still struggling…a lot and about the same time we discovered there was something going on with Geoff’s mental health, I began to search for peace, search for help to find peace.  My bestie, Charlotte, had sent me a book called ‘Grieving the Child You Never Knew’ when I was in the hospital.  It was a devotional to help you work through your feelings about the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or at delivery.  I had tucked it away at the time because it treaded on areas of faith that I just wasn’t ready for.  But by August I knew something had to change.  Below I’ll post a few excerpts from it but if you wish to read more of that early journey into faith, and actually see how much my faith really hasn’t changed, the first post starts here….

I've been doing a lot of soul searching as I struggle to deal with my grief over the loss of Cole. TTTS robbed something so amazing from my life and I am fighting so hard to get it back. I have no idea how to do this and some days I am not even sure I want to, it hurts so much. I decided, after reading some of the things that I wrote when Cole first passed away and while I was in the hospital, that I needed to get writing again.
Over the past few weeks I have felt like I am missing something. I know what part of that something is, my dear sweet son Cole. But I am also missing a focus and a part of myself. I am not sure I'll ever be the same person I used to be. And I feel like saying 'And why should I be. For anyone who's looking for the old me...well you've come to the wrong place.' I changed forever the day the echo cardio doctor told me "Your baby has passed away...I'm so sorry Mr and Mrs. Tummers but your baby died'. I'll NEVER EVER get over can I. But I also need to remember that it wasn't the end of the world, that life goes on after death. That Cole is in the most amazing place. 
Who am I to want to bring him back from there? Why should I think that he would want to come to this world filled with the trials of life when he can be in a place where everything is perfect? Where there is no pain, no sadness, no financial worries, and no evil. Sometimes I think, as do many others that by losing a child you never knew, by that child not living a life here on Earth that we and they lost out...all those things we could have experienced together. Oh what I wouldn't give to have my son here with me giggling and smiling like his twin, watching his first steps, hearing his first words, seeing him make friends and go off to school, graduate, get a job, get married etc. But those are just the positives...we all know there are so many tough things life has to dish out. I know because I've lived through so many and I am just one person. Who wouldn't want a life of no worries and pain for their child and what right do I have to deny my child of that.....and so we're back to finding a way to let Cole go, to feel good about his new home in Heaven and to move on and make my life what I want and need it to be.

Through the book I realized a few things.  One was that I was being open about my grief, talking to anyone who would listen, for selfish reasons at times… I wanted attention, I wanted pity.  It wasn’t so much that I shared my grief with them but rather that I shared what had happened and, well, waited for the pitied looks.  When I first discovered this was what I was doing I was shocked that I could be so selfish.  In time I learned that it was not only a coping mechanism but it was also a way to take attention away from how much I was struggling inside to make any sense of what had happened or to find any sense of peace and hope.   By being open about what happened, about the things that set me off and behaving in the way I thought people expected me to, I was actually pushing my real feelings aside. Why did I feel the need to worry about what others thought? Why couldn’t’ I just say 'I feel so devastated about the loss of one of my twins but it's overshadowed daily by the feeling that I couldn't have done it anyway....I could have never handled being a twin mommy and that is why I think this happened".

So what did I hide behind most, what was holding me back the most...guilt.

And so I worked through feelings like anger at others for not validating our loss by saying things like ‘well atleast you didn’t lose both’ or ‘it’s much easier since you didn’t get to meet him before he died’.  I worked through my guilt about feeling like this happened because we couldn’t afford two babies or I couldn’t handle two babies (and the anger, again, I had at the people who actually said such inconsiderate things to me…it’s one thing for me to think it but a whole other thing for someone you call ‘friend’ to say it).  I worked through feelings of intense sadness at all that we had lost and I learned about the frustration that was so consuming when I just couldn’t find the old me and didn’t know who the new me was. 
I wrote these as words to friends and family…

 Let me be sad, mad, frustrated, confused and guilty. Let me cry on your shoulder and be quiet in peace. Let me talk when I need to and scream when I want. Please just let me grieve for all the things we lost by losing Cole, by losing Cameron's beautiful twin brother.
I learned it was ok to take time for me, to zone out and just let myself feel what needed to be felt.  I learned being angry at God was ok, was something He could handle.  I also learned being angry at the doctors who didn’t fix things and the people who weren’t supportive was also very natural.

One of the greatest things I learned was this…

‘it never occured to me until reading this devotion that God understands my suffering. He knows what it is like to lose a child. Jesus understands my suffering. He endured physical and emotional pain, torture and death even though he pleaded with God to take his cup of suffering from him. He willingly accepted his suffering if that was God's plan. Did he deserve to suffer, to die? Of course not. None of us 'deserve' the suffering we endure, none of us are being punished by God and it isn't a sign of sin. It isn't God telling us to 'clean up our act'.
At first that was sort of how I thought of our journey. Not as a punishment but that God allowed this to happen to us because He wished our family to learn something from it, to grow from it. I remember getting angry with Geoff when he would call me and vent about how stressed he was at home with the boys. I kept saying to him "This happened to us for a reason. I think it's supposed to make us stronger and better as a family and now I don't know what to think because it's not making us better but worse."...Yup I really thought and said that. First of all I realize now how selfish I was being towards the rest of my family...I wasn't suffering alone but sure acted like it. And secondly, why on Earth should I have thought that 2 months after the saddest day of our lives we should be miraculously changed and functioning like this sitcom family, I have no idea!!!

I realize now that God didn't allow to happen for that reason but that He's here to take our cup of suffering, to help us in our time of need and most likely help our family grow, strengthen and comfort one another. He wants to walk with us through our pain and He wants to give us hope to see our loss in the scope of eternity. It will all make sense one day. There are a great many things we are not meant to understand this side of Heaven and by asking God to guide us we will make there to see our loved ones, to understand His great plan.’

To me this is the perfect way to end my blog for today...the day we celebrate our saviour's birthday.  God gave his son to us, He knew the ending but that didn't make it easier to know his son would suffer and die. But on this day of his birth we celebrate the gift of his life and of his death.  And today I celebrate the gift that Cole's birth and death have been.  It's a hard concept to grasp...that death could be a gift...but just keep reading and I'll explore where the gift of loss took me and how Jesus made it all ok.  

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