Don’t call us, we’ll call you

January 23, 2017

Coping strategies, Day 60

5 November

I never thought that I would be a foster parent. I mean, going back a ways, I didn’t plan on being any type of parent. But even once I embraced the idea of parenthood and had a sensitivity toward foster children’s needs based on some of my nonprofit work, the narrative in my head was always that I was too emotionally fragile to be a foster parent myself. I would get too attached, and then with my depressive history, I would be thrown into an emotional tailspin when the children had to go away. Which they do. And they will, right up until you finally find that fourth floor, last door fit that was meant to be with your family. So I’ve been trying to face this question head-on:

What will I do when he has to go away?

What will I do that day? That week? That month? What will I do to memorialize him and his place in our life, but still keep moving forward? There is no such thing as closure still rings true to me, but what does that really mean in practice? How do I hold on to all the love and joy while simultaneously letting go of the one who produced them?

Of course, my first instinct is to do some research. What have other foster parents found helpful? Have there been any studies on that topic? But quite surprisingly, I ended up feeling resistant to that idea. Maybe it’s influenced by lack of time, but I also have this feeling of wanting to carve out this path for myself. I had tried to start that process back when I was writing my new life story, identifying at least two things I thought would be important: Create a place to remember each child and Escape. The first one will be easy, I think, if not totally defined at this point. I’m sure I’ll feel sentimental about practically everything, so it won’t be hard to fill something like a “loss box.”

But the second, it turns out, I’ve probably gotten worse at in the last 3 years. Even before we got the baby, I had given up “Dear Prudence” and no longer had a particular show to watch regularly (though thanks to Robin-Elise and her Netflix gift, I can binge watch with the best of ’em when I’m in a funk). We reduced our dining-out budget in order to save for a new home (did I mention we’re moving? minor detail…) so restaurant meals could not be a go-to. (I have, however, allowed myself the luxury of spending $3-5 during each of the baby’s visitations in exchange for using Panera or Barnes & Noble wifi.) In short, my strategies for “escape” are a bit non-existent at the moment (let’s be honest, I’ll probably escape into work because: workaholic), though I’m sure I’ll allow myself a meal out on the day we have to give him up.

I’m on the hunt for more coping strategies, but in the meantime, I’ve found quite a bit of comfort in a quote that my new friend Ali shared on Facebook:

grief(source, I think)

My grief will be proportionate to my love. So it’s going to be intense, and it’s going to well up in my eyes about 70 times a day, just like my love does now. What will I do when he goes away? Just keep right on loving him.

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October 15, 2012

Heaven on earth

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 4:36 am

This week my dearest of friends lost her sweetest baby girl. I have shed so many tears; it’s hard for me to fathom how they are still carrying on. Luckily, the Nelson family is gifted in the ways of strength, grace, and optimism. When I first thought about making a quick trip to Utah for the funeral, it seemed impossible. But after a couple of days, it seemed impossible not to. So I took maybe the shortest trip of my life, 18 hours on the ground, and paid my respects to the little girl who won me over just a few weeks ago by sweetly letting me hold her (and get my baby fix) — so many babies just want their mamas, you know? I’ll always be glad sweet Lizzie decided to blow-out on me; now anytime I wear those capris, or the new skirt, or the pants, I’ll think of her and the little piece of heaven-on-earth that she was for a few months.

When I wasn’t traveling, I spent the week holding Addison as much as possible. There just didn’t seem to be anything else worth doing. I had to bribe her with a few movies: you can watch Toy Story . . . if you lay on the couch next to me and don’t move at all, except to occasionally hug my neck. (My demands seemed excessive to her; we compromised.) I wish my sweet friend could have her baby back in her arms, but since she can’t (right now), I must remember the lesson in it for me: shut down computer; hug Addison. Repeat.

May 9, 2012

Flashback: My thoughts on April 2

This morning I had a conversation with two of my good friends, a conversation about new babies and first children and postpartum depression. And then quite by accident, I stumbled on this post that I never published. I wrote it on 2 April 2010 (hence the very creative title I picked) when Addison was just about 6 weeks old. I’m not exactly sure why I never published it but I suspect that there was some element of not being completely ready to discuss how I was feeling. I know I did blog about some of my experiences with PPD, but I also know there were some things that I wanted to say but I just could not bring myself to do it. Revisiting those times through conversation with a few friends over the last several months has been surprisingly healing. I’ve told them things without fear or shame (and often with laughter) that I remember feeling so horrible about at the time. I just want to hug them and tell them that we’re good people and good mothers and in the whole scheme of our lives these difficult feelings will be so fleeting and inconsequential and no reflection on whom we really are and what we are capable of. And while I’m telling them all that, I want to tell myself too.

For a little over a week now, Addison has been smiling directly at us, in response to us.  I think this actually started much earlier, but Neal says I was deceived by motherly-wishful thinking (the more I think about it, the more I believe that “motherly-wishful thinking” may be a sort of mental condition — anyone know if it’s in the DSM?).

This new turn of events has made getting her in the morning my favorite part of the day.  She will be rooting around, flailing her arms, making little frustrated squeaks, still partially asleep.  As I walk in the room and start speaking, she calms down a bit and starts to tentatively open her eyes.  By the time I’m in front of her swing looking at her, she has her eyes open and breaks into a smile.  She doesn’t stare at me for long because she still wants to make it clear that she is hungry, but she is very sweet and smiley in the first few moments of her day.

I have yet to get a picture of her wide eyed and smiling, simply because it is so adorable, I can’t pull myself away long enough to get the camera.

***

Speaking of beautiful moments, I used to have so many sacred thoughts and feelings about this baby girl while I was pregnant.  Impressions about her character and personality, about our pre-existing relationship, and my role as her mother.  So it’s been interesting that since she was born those have been fewer and farther between.  There is something so in-the-moment about being with a child.  When they need something, they need it now.  When they are unhappy, they want to be soothed now.  It doesn’t leave me with the kind of contemplative time to which I am so accustomed from years of bedrest and ill health.

Couple this lack of time with exhaustion and add in more mixed feelings than I could have foreseen, and this has been an interesting experiment thus far.  A lot of people talked to me about how hard the first while would be and about postpartum depression and baby blues, but I don’t remember people talking about the mixed feelings.  How you would never go back to life before her, but you will also grieve for the things that you must leave behind.

Why can we not acknowledge that we are losing things too?  Things we would want to grieve.

“Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.” [From this Joni Mitchell song I love.]

April 4, 2009

Good vibes

I must take a moment before sleeping (don’t tell Neal–it’s already past my 10:00 bedtime) to thank everyone for the good vibes sent my way today.  It really worked!!!  I can’t say that I’m done yet, BUT the part that I was having the most difficulty with finally came together today.  Hallelujah!  Tomorrow I finish the results/analyses and then tackle the dreaded discussion section.  But I’m feeling more hopeful and upbeat about this paper than I have in many weeks.

I have no doubt that this progress was truly a tender mercy of the Lord because in other areas of life, this was an extremely difficult day.  I probably spent about 2-3 hours weeping and mourning for life’s tragedies and losses, some mine, some others’.  But making progress on this once hopeless paper really makes me feel like I can keep going.  This youtube video (must watch until at least 1:22) and these pictures also helped:

tigers-tiny-babies

Asian otter babies

Asian otter babies

Orangutan baby in a diaper

Orangutan baby in a diaper

Cuddling leopard cubs

Cuddling leopard cubs

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