Friday, April 29, 2011

One thing that I think that I have figured out is that I am never going to be the same person that I was before February 28th of this year.  I can never go back to being the person who had no real idea what pain was, nor can I go back to being the person for whom "the worst day of my life" was the day my luggage arrived in Ukraine smelling of fish.

I was getting ready for bed last night and thinking that nothing was ever going to be quite the same as it was before we lost Gabbi, and it got me thinking.  I wonder if, as part of this mourning process for the little girl I wanted so badly, I am also mourning the piece of myself that will never ever be the same.  Mourning the innocence that I lost that morning at the kupah.

From what everyone tells me, this ache in my soul will dull and eventually even go into hiding for days, weeks or even months at a time- but sooner or later, most often when you least expect it, the pain will come back and rip that hole in my soul wide open again.  There will be certain dates on the calendar that will never again be the same for me.  February 28th will go from being the day we celebrated my brother Josh's birthday, to the day I mourn the loss of a daughter I never got a chance to know.  Pessach will go from a holiday of freedom to a holiday of sadness.  Simchas in my life will feel like they are missing something- like someone I love who should be there isn't.

I wonder if knowing all that makes me more or less prepared for when it happens unexpectedly.  I suspect each time will be different, and that part of what I am mourning is the loss of that normalcy and stability.
A long time ago on a forum far far away I wrote a post about segulas.  For those non-frummies reading, a segulah is sort of like a charm or action you can take that will help you in some way shape or form.  Some are designed for health, some for fertility, some to find your soul mate.

An example of this is the segulah of praying at certain holy places "known" for helping with certain issues.  Take Kever Rachel (Rachel's tomb) for example.  he was known in the bible for having dealt with infertility therefore her tomb has become a place that can help to focus your prayers on praying for a child.

There are also certain things known for being segulot.  Eating the heel of a loaf of bread to give birth to a son.  Wearing a red string to ward off the evil eye.  This sort of "magic" cross all cultures and religions and leads to things like "never let a black cat cross your path" or "break a mirror have 7 years of bad luck".

This concept often crosses over to holistic healing using stones as well.  We know in the Torah the high priest wore a breast plate with various stones representing different concepts and different types of people.  There is a long standing segulah that wearing a raw ruby will keep a pregnancy safe and help avoid a miscarriage or still birth.  Naturally as soon as I found out I was pregnant I made myself a necklace with a raw ruby and wore it every day for the rest of my pregnancy.

Anyhow, a long time ago on a forum far far away I wrote a long post on how I think that it is not the charm or action itself that brings about the final product, but that the charm/action becomes a prism through which we can focus our own thoughts and prayers and thereby help ourselves to channel our prayers in the right direction.  It is not the thing on it's own that provides the protection.

I think I forgot that while I was pregnant.  I wore that ruby 24 hours a day 7 days a week- but never really thought much  about it.  I remember getting ready for the c section when we found out Gabbi was gone.  I couldn't wear any jewelry.  I took off my earrings and handed them to Jason.  Then he helped me take off the stone I had been wearing for so long.  He said the look on my face was horrible.  I think it was at that moment that it really all came crashing down around me and the whole thing became real.  I remember looking at it aand just thinking "it didn't work.  How could it not have worked?"  I forgot that the power is in the prayer magnified by the object, never by the object itself.

I left that necklace on some table at the hospital.  I don't think I believe in segulahs anymore.
Anyone who knits or crochet's or even just sews knows about that big knotted ball of colourful thread that you keep hanging on to because it has some pretty useful pieces in it if only you had the time to untangle them. It moves from drawer to closet. Closet to garage. Garage to craft stash. Until eventually you decide that today is the day you are going to try to unravel it. You sit down in your favourite and most comfortable chair, put something good on tv and set to work. You slowly free one colour. Than another. Some are tangled so tightly you take sizzors to the ends. Eventualy you are left with a lot of long kinked threads, and a much smaller ball of tangled string that you just give up on and throw out.

To me my brain right now is like that ball of knotted yarn. This blog allows me to take one piece at a time and slowly unravel it from the rest until I have a complete thought- written out in a format that I can make sense of. I can then set that particular thought aside and either finish with it for good or decide to come back and reexamine it later.

I need to make sense of everything going through my head right now or it just might explode. If this is the way that lets me do it best, that lets me take one thought and unravel it to it's conclusion, than why should a try finding a way that does not work for me as well?
There are those who think I should not be writing here.  That I am airing dirty laundry in public.  No matter how hard I try to explain myself, those people will just never get me.  Writing clears my head.  It helps me clarify the tohu va'vohu of thoughts swirling around in my brain.  It allows me to be sure I am using precisely the right word to express what I am trying to say- and if I get it wrong I can backspace and try again.  I can put a post on hold until I figure out what I am trying to say.  I can go back in time and change things if I realize I was wrong.

"But why does it need to be in public?" they ask me.  "By all means, keep a journal, but why put it on the internet where everyone can see it?"

To those questions I have a few answers.  First and foremost, why not?  I haven't done anything wrong.  I have nothing to be ashamed of.  I am dealing with walking through the darkest time of my life the best way that I can, and if I want to document my journey why the hell shouldn't I?  I am doing everything everyone is telling me and if writing it out in a public forum makes me feel better who in the world is anyone else to tell me not to do so?

But it is more than that.  Just like infertility, eating disorders, spousal abuse and so many other "unpleasant" topics, miscarriages and still births are swept under the rug and hidden from view.  Women dealing with the pain of losing a child feel isolated and alone.  Often we are told it "was not a real child" and we should not be so upset. about losing the fetus.  The self help section of the internet on the topic is pitifully bare.  If my putting my thoughts out there can help even one woman to feel less alone, then I will write every single thing that goes through my brain no matter what anyone else thinks.

In the time this blog has been online (it went live about 3 weeks ago) it has received almost 4000 hits.  Of those about 75% are from sites I don't recognize.  Search terms including "devastating stillbirth" and "post miscarriage depressions" are bringing in readers from Russia, France and Argentina.  I have received dozens of emails thanking me for being so open an honest and  making people feel like they are not freaks of nature going through hell on their own.

This is happening everyday to regular women in countries around the world.  It is not a secret.  It is not our fault.  And we have nothing to be ashamed of.  I have returned, at least in part, to the belief that God runs the world and is in control of every baby born and every baby that isn't.  If he decides my little girl fulfilled her purpose before she even opened her eyes than who am I to argue?  I can be and am sad.  I can be angry that he chose to do this to me.  I can be depressed.  But I have nothing to be ashamed of.

It is time to bring this pain out of the shadows- and if people don't like it they don't need to read it.
I am making myself crazy with this whole wanting to be pregnant again as quickly as possible.  It is all I think about, all I pray for.  Tonight Jason made Channah eggs and I found myself sick to my stomach over the smell- yeah yeah, could be, but a) way to early to be sick over smells and b) I LIVE on eggs when I am pregnant.  It is not bad enough that I am going crazy in my real life, now I need to create an imaginary nausea?!?!

It used to be this way all the time.  Am I?  Aren't I?  But I have this symptom or that symptom.  But it's to early.  well maybe I just tested to early...Well I shouldn't really be able to be... but now we know differently.  Gabbi was such an enormous surprise that we never even considered the idea we just thought I had jet lag.  But now we know it can happen so it magnifies every one of those imaginary symptoms a hundred fold.  I think it must be like being a hypochondriac without the relief of finding out in the end that it is nothing to worry about.

There are times I really think I am losing my mind.  Then I remember it is already long gone.

I spoke to someone tonight who says she is impressed with how far I have come and how well I am coping and holding myself together.  She says I am doing all the right things and she is amazed at how far I have come.  She says the backslides where I cry myself to sleep are normal.  She said that Gabbi's birthday and due date will always be hard for me no matter how many years go by.  The same with the chagim.  That it will get easier and duller, but never really go away entirely.

The thing is, if it hurts this much now, even if it dulls buy 99%, I still can't see how I would be able to hold myself together through those dates.

I lit my first yertzheit candle this week.  Cried for about an hour after.  I have a hard time thinking about the fact that I will have to light one for my Gabbi every yom tov for the rest of my life until I get to be reunited with her.  That's a lot of candles.  That's a lot of tears.

Thank God for Jason and Channah, and for friends near and far who are here to steady me when I can't stay up on my own.

As always, please keep davening for a full and healthy (and not imaginary) pregnancy that ends in a  happy, healthy baby.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How is it that some friends become closer than family and some family become more distant than the stars?
"I've heard it said, that people come into our lives, for a reason, bringing something we must learn.  And we are led, to those who help us most to grow- if we let them, and we help them in return.  Well I don't know if I believe that's true, but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you... Whose to say if I've been changed for the better.  I do believe I have been changed for the better.  Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."  (Wicked, the Musical "For Good" Stephen Schwartz)

I have always believed that everything that happens to us, and every person we meet during our lifetime, come into our lives to teach us something.  Whether we learn the lesson or not is up to us, but there is a reason that everything we come in contact with happens.

I had a long talk with Jason last night about what I have learned in the last 2 months.  It is no secret that the last 2 months have been the hardest time in my life.  From the moment I was told there was no heartbeat my world turned into a living hell and I didn't think I would survive the experience.  It was at that very moment that I learned the first thing I will take away from my time with Gabbi- family and friends who will stick by you through anything are more valuable than anything else in the world.  Having my Aunt and Uncle come running to be by my side when I needed them most meant more to me than I could have ever imagined.  Having friends who took care of my every need and who are still trying to prop me up emotionally is probably the only thing pulling me through this dark tunnel from which there seems to be no escape.

But I learned a lot more than that.  The truth is, that lesson I have learned before and maybe I just needed a little reminding.  I am sure God could have taken care of it in a less painful way had he wanted to.

I think the thing I will take away from this most strongly is that life is to precious for hate and anger.  Before, I spent so much of my energy holding a grudge against certain people, that I am not sure I really took the time too put all my energy into the wonderful things this world has to offer.  But in the last 2 months everything and everyone I thought had hurt me in the past was turned upside down and I realize that I no longer know what to think.

To begin with there is my mom.  I grew up always knowing that my mom was the good parent.  She would be there for me through thick and thin- if I needed her she would be there.  But this time, for very very legitimate reasons, she could not just hop a plane to be here for me and I do not for one minute resent that fact- but it meant that for the first time in as long as I can remember if was my father who stepped up to the emotional plate and was my parental shoulder to cry on.

He called me sweetheart and told me there was nothing wrong with the way I was feeling.  That it was okay to cry, and if I didn't I would not be the daughter he loved so much.  Whose to say if he meant it or not.  Yes it could just be that my mother was to close to the situation and in so much pain herself she did not know what to say to comfort me.  But for once in my life the parent I felt I could never really 100% count on, became the person I turned to.  I wonder how much hate and anger could have been avoided had I turned to him years ago and said "Dad I need you to love me and be there for me" like I did in the last few weeks.

On that front it has been years since I spoke to his parents.  I don't even know why we were all so angry, but neither of us were willing to budge in our position that it was the other side's fault and they had to take the first step to fix it.  Well they did.  When I lost my precious Gabbi they picked up a pen and sent a short note expressing their condolences and reminding us to be strong for Channah's sake.  As far as cards go it really was not much- but they sent it.  And I replied.  It may never turn into a loving relationship, but at least a window has been cracked through which notes can be passed and communication started.

I think the hardest one for me to get over though has been my grudge against NCSY.  When I left I did so on my terms.  I chose not to follow the typical path they laid out for students and because of my choices there were certain people who treated me particularly badly.  I spent many nights crying into my pillow thinking how unfair life was.  I have learned now that I had no idea then how truly unfair life could be.  I learned that God had set the whole thing up ahead of time so that I could learn to find the strength within myself to move forward regardless of how dark and long the tunnel seemed to be.  Last night, for the first time ever, I was able to let go of a grudge that has been eating at me for years.

The worst grudge of all was against Jason.  When I had no one else to blame for the loss of my little girl, I blamed him.  HE did not want to go to the hospital.  The truth is, I could have called a taxi just as easily.  My anger at myself, which is still very much there, was being completely misdirected.

So from my Gabbi who never even opened her eyes I learned that life is too short for negative feelings.  Life is to precious to waste it being angry at someone or something that really might all just be a misunderstanding- or worse yet, your own fault.  The 2 minutes I had with my little girl taught me that love can bloom in an instant- and is far, far better for your heart and soul that the evil that otherwise takes it place.

I have learned that life is too short for could'ves, should'ves and would'ves.  What's done is done and the only thing left to do is to make the best of the present and to try to learn to do better in the future.  Holding a grudge does nothing but saps your energy and most of the time the other person does not even realize there is or was a problem.

As always I beg those reading to keep davening for a healthy and full term pregnancy as quickly as possible, and a healthy and full term baby at th end.  Wishing everyone only revealed brachot.
I woke up this morning in a bit of a silly mood.  Was teasing Jason (good naturedly) about little things.  IT was the first morning I can remember in a along time waking up feeling normal.  Didn't last too long until I remembered the hell I am living through, but at least I know that my brain is able to forget and get some rest while I am sleeping.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anyone who knows me for longer than 10 minutes will know that I have my beef with NCSY. They do lots and lots and lots of good, but as in any organization there are those who fall through the cracks- get overlooked or mistreated and leave feeling as if there time there would have been better served elsewhere.

On the other hand, there are things about NCSY that I loved and am thrilled to have had as a part of my life and will forever cherish.  Many of the memories and many of the friends I made there are still a huge part of my life. I was lucky enough to mentored and taught by some of the best and strongest and kindest people I have ever had the pleasure to come across and I learned more about myself and my faith than I think I would have in any other places.

The fact that I ultimately chose not to follow the path that they laid out for me was an incredibly difficult and ostracizing choice, but one from which I learned a lot about my own internal strength and ultimatly gave me the courage to choose my own path based on what was right for me. The story ended well with Jason and I riding off into the sunset in his parents old volvo and getting to know each other on the way to a board meeting and continuing our relationship through a shabbat afternoon shiur before eventually making our way down the isle and on to an airplane to live out our dream in Israel.

One of the things I will always remember fondly about NCSY was the end of shabbat. The lights were low, the music soft, the stories sappy and the singing sweet. The slow songs were songs of hope for better days, songs of redemptions, and songs of pure hearts returning to God now and forever. I learned then that music can have a very powerful mood altering affect and can be used in many different ways. Since then I have used music to pick me up, bring me down, soothe me, fuel my anger and help bring to a climax pretty much any emotion I was trying to express.  At the time it was used to draw high school students into an atmosphere where they would want to stay and open their hearts and minds to new ideas and new realities they might not have otherwise considered. Many years later I still think of those sweet "ebbing" times when certain songs come up on my play list.

When Channah was a baby many of those songs became the lullabies we would use to hush her to sleep. We would sing to her of building a temply to glorify God in a pure heart. Songs of the ultimate redemption when Eliyahu Hanavi would return all those stuck between land and sea, between darkness and light to the holy city of Jerusalem and we would once again stand united as one nation under one God.

This afternoon I played the piano for myself for the first time in a long time. I started with the pieces that are most familiar to me- classics by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach. Things I learned to play as a child that I have always been able to fall in to smoothly to relax and let my brain just flow with the music. Let it lift my mood as the music soars to heights I can not currently reach on my own.

Slowly I realized I was shifting gears. I found myself playing those lullabies we used to sing Channah and had planned to sing to Gabbi. I cried while I played, but they were good tears- healing tears. Tears that meant that the meanings of those songs and those words were not lost on me. Those songs that I learned so long ago reminded me that God is listening to me, and hearing my cries, and that one day Moshiach will come and the ultimate redemption will follow when once again I will be able to hold my Gabbi and sing to her as I would have wanted to. They also tell me that God and every neshama ever created is listening to my cries, listening as I shed bitter tears over what I lost and pray for my hearts desire. I found myself hoping that wherever my Gabbi is she was listening and knew that if I could I would be singing them to her as well.

Bilvavi mishkan evneh lahadar k'vodo, Uv'mishkan mizbei'ach asim l'karnei hodo. Ul'ner tamid ekach li et aish ha'akeidah, Ul'korban akriv lo et nafshi, Et nafshi hayechidah.
In my heart I will build a temple to glorify of His splendor, and in the temple an I will put an alter to the rays of his glory. And for an Eternal Flame I will take for me The fire of the Akei'dah And for a sacrifice I shall offer Him my soul, My one and only soul. 

How much more appropriate a song can I play than one which offers God my child as a sacrifice. Avraham, a father, was tested and willing to give up his son and with him a piece of his soul because God commanded it. Have I not had the same thing taken from me? Is my soul more important than Avrahams that I should be unwilling to give God my daughter?

Lev tahor b'ra li Elohim, vruach nachon chadesh b'kirbi-Al tashlicheni mi'lfanecha, v'ruach kodshecha al tikach mimeni.

God has given me a pure heart, and His spirit He has placed within me. Do not cast me away from before you, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

God, you have given me a pure heart with which to praise you. I beg that you remove the dark shadow of doubt from my heart that lays there so heavily right now. Do not throw me away and please bring me back so I can rest in the glow of your glory.

Acheinu kol beit yisrael, han'nutunim b'tzara uvashivyah, haomdim bein bayam uvein bayabasha. Hamakom Y'racheim Aleihem v'yotziem mitzra lirvacha um'afaila l'orah umishiabud lig'ulah, hashta ba'agala uvizman kariv.

All of our brothers in B'nei Yisrael, those who are in distress and those who are in captivity, those who stand between the sea and over land. God should have mercy on them, and bring them from distress to comfort, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemptio​n, now, swiftly, and soon.

I feel as though I am begging for my very life- it brings a lump to my throat to think how we used to sing it in such happy times and never really understand what it meant. Captivity whether of the body or of the soul, stuck on an island between dark and light, between water and land, alone, scared, crying out to be saved is one of the most terrible places I have ever been. And there is no one hear to hear me except for God himself.

Haben yakir li Efraim, im yeled shashuim; ki midei dab'ri bo, zachor ezkerenu od, al ken hamu meai lo, rachem arachamenu n'um HASHEM

Is Ephraim a darling son unto Me? Is he a child that is bounced on my knee? For the time I talk about him, I do sincerely remember him still; therefore​ My heart craves him, I will have compassio​n upon him, says God..

Was my Gabbi not my darling child? Do I not crave the comfort of holding her on my knee? I pray that God show me compassion and send me a child, not to replace my Gabbi as I know that can't happen, but to help fill the yearning in my heart.

Shema koleinu adonai eloheinu, chus verachem aleinu, vekabel berachamin uvratzon et tefilateinu.

Listen to our voices, Hashem our God, spare us and have mercy on us, and receive with compassion and willingness our prayers.

Is there anything I am praying for more than a wholesome, long and healthy pregnancy? I beg God daily to have mercy on me, to show me rachmanut and grant the wishes of my heart. Is there any song so poignant as this one to express the feeling of crying out to my father in heaven for that which only he can give me?

Ani ma'amin b'emunah sh'leimah b'viat hamashiach, v'af al pi sh'yitmameah, im kol zeh achakeh lo b'chol yom sheyavo.

I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may linger, despite this I will wait for him each day that he may come.

There is currently nothing I await more eagerly and believe in more whole heartedly than the fact that one day God will put and end to my pain. It may take a very long time, but eventually I will be reunited with my girl who never needed to know the evils of this world. My Channah davens day and night tht moshiach will come- she really does believe with complete faith that if only she davens just a little bit harder, does just one more mitzvah, Eliyahu will come end the evils in the world and and reunite her with her sister. I try to learn from her simple faith that Moshiach really can come at any moment and I should be ready. I need to prepare myself to stand before the king of kings and explain to him why my 7 year old has more faith than I do.

V'lirushalayim irecha berachamim tashuv, vetishkon betochah ka'asher dibarta. Uvneh otah bekarov beyameinu binyam olam.

And to Jerusalem​, your city, in your mercy return, and dwell in it as you said. And build it soon, in our days, an everlasti​ng construction.

One day I will walk the streets of a rebuilt Yerushalayim and fall into the arms of my precious little girl never again to be separated.

Tov l'hodot la'hashem, ulzamer l'shimcha elyon, l'hagid baboker chasdecha v'emunatcha baleylot.

It is good to give thanks to God, and to sing to his name on high - to tell in the morning of His kindness,​ and in the evening of His faithfuln​ess.

This one is the hardest for me to sing. I can't see any kindness in what he has done to me. I see only bitterness and a huge empty void staring back at me both morning and evening. Here is where my wonderful husband comes into the picture. He reminds me night and day that God is Good. That we have no idea why he has taken our precious little neshamale from us, but as we are faithful to him, so to is he faithful to us.

To NCSY I owe a debt of gratitude for creating the basic soundtrack to my life. There were happy niggunim when I got married. Somber Tehillim when I was worried. Sad songs of exile on Tisha B'av. And now lullabies for a little girl who will never hear them, but with strengthen an ima who will keep singing.
Someone who was unfortunately in a similar situation to ours (although not exactly the same) sent us a book they said they felt helped pull them through their own difficult time.  The book is Called "Tear Soup", written by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen and illustrated by Taylor Bills.  

The story was simple.  A woman had suffered some sort of grief and goes through her "recipe" for getting through her grief.  It includes such ingredients such as a pot full of tears, some shed with others and some wailed alone.  At first it is bitter and salty and contains nothing by tears.  Soon it begins to include memories both good and bad.  It includes comforting things and comforting friends- as well as friends who get tired of and thing you should move on.  It touches on every single aspect of the grief that has permeated my life for the last 2 months.  It even discusses how different people, different genders, different ages, all make their own form for Tear Soup.  In the end, the tear soup goes away into the freezer and only come out for a sip or two before being put away again until next time it is needed.  

It even includes tips for creating your own tear soup.

In almost every single way the book hits the nail on the head.  It could not be more accurate to the way I have been feeling and reacting if it were written as a biography of my last 2 months.  

I actually find the book incredibly comforting.  The fact that it described what I have been going through to a "T" makes me feel like what I am dealing with is and how I am reacting is totally normal.  I am not going to go so far as to say that it makes me feel any better, but it does go a long way towards making me feel ok about where I am and where I am going.

Throughout the last 2 months we have been sent a number of books, some more helpful than others.  There was a fantastic one directed at Channah about making sense of the fact that the baby she was dreaming about was not coming home.  There was one written by a Rabbi which is a first hand account of someone having gone through the loss and confronts the issues finding a way to mourn a still born within a halachick framework.  There was an excellent one on dealing with the practicalities and emotional aspects of being a woman, having gone through pregnancy an delivery without the "prize" at the end.  Each of the books have been excellent in their own way.

But tear soup is not designed to deal with specifically a still birth.  It is designed to deal with any sort of grief and I find it truly interesting that grief can be so similar no matter what the cause.  I don't know what the authors went through that brought them to write this book, but I hope they know that by learning to deal with their own grief, they have helped many others to deal with their own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today was a good day.  We saw friends from Toronto, and it was a friend who has dealt with her own bout of grief and depression so being with them was comfortable.   They did not expect anything from me that I am not yet in a position to give, and did not ask any questions I did not want to answer.

After that we went to the family trauma therapist we are seeing in Jerusalem and she helped me validate a few of the feelings I have actually been struggling with for years and was able to give us some suggestions for trying to deal with some of them.  I'll be honest, I am not overly certain any of her ideas are going to help one iota, but I will give them each an honest shot.  It is funny, a lot of the time I think she understands the problems inside my head, but not enough about how my head works to really get in there and help me solve them.  Jason, on the other hand, understands how my head works, but has no idea what the problems are.  Then you have me.   I have no idea what the problems are or how to find my way around inside my own head.

There used to be this old TV sitcom called Herman's Head where each part of his personality had it's own little person controlling it inside a stuffy little filing room inside his brain.  Lately I feel like the filing cabinets are locked shut and the secretary had gone on extended leave.

In any case, we met up with my inlaws (who had been at the science museum with Channah for the  day) at the bus station, had dinner and came back to RBSA without indecent (except for a random nutjob on the bus but that is all par for the course on buses between here and Jerusalem).

I am just going over in my head what the therapist said.  First of all she reiterated that I am going through the grieving process normally and nothing that I am thinking or feeling is unusual and not to let anyone tell me to move on until I am ready.  No matter how many times I hear that it is not enough- I spend so much of my time feeling like such a abnormal freak of nature right now that hearing that I am a normal freak of nature really does make me feel more secure in my own head.

She also helped me to see why in a lot of cases friends can make me feel better while Jason can't.  Something along the lines of we always trust least those we know best the least.  We know they will say/do anything to try to help us, so we tend to underestimate/ignore what they are saying.  It certainly did give me something to think about.

On the other hand she did say a little more thought and effort on his part to make me feel like I am the most important thing in his life and not his computer might also help a little!

She said when I feel sad I should look at my Channah, and if she is not around I should look at a picture of her.  She says my face positively glows when I talk about how much I love her and how proud of her I am.  There have been times where I have been at my saddest and just gone into her room to watch her sleep.  Ok, it sounds like it might be a little creepy (sort of like that Robert Much Book "I'll Love You Forever") but I just sit on the floor or on the corner of her bed and watch her chest rise and fall.  Like she has no fear in the world because ima and abba will protect her.

The thing is, I learned 8 weeks ago that no matter how hard I try I can not protect my children from everything out there.  I can do everything in my power and still not have it be nearly enough.  I just have to hope and pray that God also decides to protect my Channah and lead her to a life of great things.

As always, to those reading, please pray for a fast, healthy and complete pregnancy around here.  The sooner it happens the sooner the black hole sucking the energy out of my life will start to shrink.  Thank you.
Took the first (and 2nd) of what will probably e be a million home pregnancy tests.  Got a Big fat Negative.  Will probably try again in a week.  For those who play the market, time to buy stock in the product.  Lots and lots and lots of stock.  Lots.

Monday, April 25, 2011

No matter how good a day I have I still break down at night.  I break down when I light candles.  I break down when I am on my own for longer than a minute or two.  I can be perfectly presentable so long as I am with other people, but put me on my own, (or even on my own with just my immediate family) and you are in for water works.

I really am doing everything I can.  I am taking the medication.  I am getting out.  I  am working hard to get back into my normal routine.  I am playing with Channah.  I got back into the studio on Friday.  I am making plans with friends.  It seems I am learning to "fake it" for fairly long periods at a time- but it is always still there.  Hiding just beneath the surface ready to pounce the minute my mind is no longer distracted.

Shabbat, after Candle lighting, Channah's Bubbie took her out for a bit and I just sat and looked at the candles.  There were 5 lit for my family, and 3 for hers.  She still lights one for my husband.  My daughter lights one for herself.  And I light 2 for me, and one for each of my girls.

I sat looking at the two candles.  So alike, yet so different.  I guess because of the air flow one of the flames was flickering and dancing, the other went up straight and true.  I could not help but think about how symbolic of my two girls the two flames were.  One dances and twinkles in the daylight and the other went straight up with no flickering of life.

It had been a long week.  The day before we had gone on a tiyul to Tzfat.  Yes we sat on the kiseh eliyahu in the Ari Ashkenaz shul.  We also stopped at Meron at the kever of Rabbi Shimon Bar  Yochai to add our teffillot for a healthy and whole pregnancy.  As I found myself staring at the candles and thinking about our tiyul, I found myself hoping, then wishing, then finally praying.  I found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks reciting tehillim I had not said in years and begging that God grant my prayers.

I guess that answers my question of whether or not I still believe in God.

I have come to realize that I do still believe.  I believe and I want to see him as that Avinu father figure who I can turn to when I am hurt and crying and want someone who can wipe my tears away and make everything all better.  But the truth is, that while that is the image I want to have, I think the image I am left with is more of Adonai image.  An image of a master who holds my life in his hands and can play with it at will.

This year while reciting "avadim hayinu" (we were slaves) at the seder, in my head I was thinking "shiftecha achshav" (I [female] am a slave now).  I feel like a marionette.  God can pull my strings in any which direction, make me move in ways well  beyond what should be humanly possible, and there is not a damn thing I can do about any of it.

I found myself with my head down on my arm and my arm soaked with tears.  That's how Jason found me when he came home from shul.  My arm soaking wet, my eyes red and swollen and my mouth begging my master for a gift he does not seem think I deserve.

It is now almost 8 full weeks since I lost my Gabbi.  I just lit my first yertzeit candle for her last night.  How long until the hole in my soul starts to mend and I can move forward without always looking back.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Every so often it just hits me.  My baby is dead.  Gone.  Taken from me.  How can I go on?  Oh God I am having a night where I am spiraling out of control.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Last night I heard a strange sound.  I realized it was me.  I was laughing.  Not just a small chuckle, a real laugh at a chag sameyach sign on the highway.  It was one of those I love living in Israel moments and it had me laugh out loud for the first time since I lost Gabbi.

Today I realized I was singing softly to myself as I was working on something.  Something else I have not done since I lost Gabbi.  My goal next week is to get back into the studio and actually play the piano for my own enjoyment if at all possible.

I am still sad and still feel like a huge piece of my heart is missing, but I feel like slowly, very slowly, I am reweaving the fabric of my life and remembering what it is supposed to look like.  It was always be a patch job over a huge hole, but at least the hole will hopefully be covered in some way shape or form.

I am still not at the point where I might screw up and accidentally rip out all the stitches I have so carefully started adding leaving myself needing to start from scratch, but currently, if I hold up my work and look at it I am pretty proud of how it is coming along.

It is like I am reweaving a section of a very old tapestry, and the new threads stand out as obviously different, but you can tell someone is doing their best to clean up an old piece and make it useful and beautiful again.  Some people are trained in such arts and do a stunning job and are able to match every stitch and colour.  The rest of us sort of muddle through and hope ot comes out looking somewhat decent and that it does not all fall apart the first time it gets used.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

To those who tell me I was either too attached or that I just have to learn to shrug it off and throw myself back into life.  You...

...spend 7 years praying for a baby
...spend 7 years hoping and wishing for a baby told it will never happen
...get the surprise of your life
...spend 8 months carrying the baby
...give up everything else in your life for the baby
...spend 8 months getting to know her every movement and pattern
...spend 8 months dreaming of what she will be like
... spend 8 months uncomfortable, visiting the doctor a few times a week, and not being allowed to do anything you enjoy and not complaining about any of it
...spend 8 months searching for the perfect name
...have major surgery with terrible follow up care
...BURY A CHILD- a very real child who looks like her sister, feels warm and soft like a normal baby, and through some one a million chance just did not wake up.
... feel a piece of your soul disappear in an instant and the world ripped out from beneath your feet.
...know your child is in a hole somewhere in the city but not know where, nor whether she made the "cut off" for a proper tahara process, or if they even used the name your chose
...Go home at the end of all this and watch all your friends continue to have the babies they had due and be surrounded by baby stuff of every genre.

Then and only then can you tell me to shrug it off and move on.

I do not wish the experience on anyone, but unless you have had it don't you dare tell me how to feel about it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Last night we went to a lovely seder at our neighbours and I think them very much for their incredible hospitality and their ignoring my 2 smallish breakdowns (one when reading about how the boys were thrown into the river but the girls could live, and one 9 are the months before a baby's born- like no one expected those).  I actually made it through chag fairly well.

This afternoon I had a real conversation with my mother in law about that horrible night.  All she kept saying is that it was no one's fault- no way we could have known.  Yes we should have gone to the hospital, but at that point we had no real reason to be concerned and most likely everything would have been the same anyway.  Unless they caught it at precisely the right moment we still would have lost our Gabbi.

Channah was a part of the conversation and she mentioned that she was just going to daven for moshiach and then Gabbi would come back and everyone could be happy again.  It got me thinking a lot about Channah.

I know as an Ima I am totally biased, but there is something different about Channah.  She is like an old soul trapped in a child's body; Certainly there are times she behaves like a child- jumping rope, playing with toys, and in general being a little goofball, but sometimes when you look at her you wonder what is really going on behind those deep blue eyes.

Truth is, she is just a little scary.  When she davens for things, more often then not they happen (she has now started davening for twins- I'll keep y'all posted), but the truth is, after 7 years of Jason and I davening for a child, it is only when Channah cried out to Hashem that she wanted a sister that I got pregnant.

I have never met anyone like her for whom the loss of the Beit Hamikdash is a very real and conscious loss.  She constantly asks Hashem to rebuild it, and is often genuinely surprised when we got to Jerusalem and it is not there.  She really does believe with perfect faith, b'emuna sheleima that everything she has learned that Hashem has promised us WILL happen, it is just a matter of when, and that when will be soon.  To her it is not some "someday way off in the distant future thing", it is a "here and now and if we only daven just a little bit harder and cry just a little bit more we will convince Hashem to send him" thing.  I wish I had her perfect and simple faith that moshiach will come, Gabbi will be returned to us, and the Beit Hamikdash would be rebuilt in the near future.

I am so lucky to have an older daughter to love and to hug and to keep my faith alive when that last little flame wants to flicker and go out.  There is so much I can learn from my Channah about accepting Hashem's will and believing that everything will be for the best in the long run.  As much as I hate God for taking my Gabbi, I thank him daily for sending me my Channah.

In my heart of hearts I know my Channah is destined for something great.  I do not know why her special neshama was entrusted to Jason and I, but I do believe that we have to do everything in our power to make sure it stays as pristine as we can and to maintain her perfect faith- and I think out decision to make aliya, decided years before she was born but not acted on until much later, was meant to be and has been a huge part of our tafkid as her parents.

I have to wonder if losing Gabbi the way we did was not so much a test for Jason and I, but a test or a challenge to get Channah ready for something much bigger she is going to have to do as an adult.  Anyone who knows my Channah will tell you she is destined for great things- perhaps dealing with trauma and loss was something her neshama needed to undergo to get to where she needs to be.

As hard as the last few months have been I keep trying to remind myself that although I can not see it there is a bigger picture that God is painting and although I hate him for it, taking away my Gabbi is a part of that.  I only hope the who picture will be revealed soon and that I can see what part my children, that in this world and that in the next, get to play in the ultimate redemption.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I am sad an homesick and not looking forward to pessach.  This is so far from the pessach I expected that I feel like I am on another planet.  Rosh Hashanah I did not even know yet I was pregnant, but by Yom Kippur I did and it made such a huge difference in my tefillot betweeen those two days I can not even begin to explain.  I cried my way through through Rosh Hashanah and glowed through yom kippur.

I am now back at the Rosh Hashanah part pf my year.  Even I were to be pregnant (which I sincerely doubt but wish for very, very much) this year's "Holiday of Freedom" is a time for tears.My by shavuot I can glow again, but for right now I am very much back where I was last Rosh Hashanah.

I went from the highest of the high, from planning every single detail to make sure this insane pessach would be perfect for everyone else in my family that it never even occurred  to me that something like this could happen.

So here I am stuck in my own little slavery in my mind with no escape.  I doubt God will send a miracle to get me out of this mess.  He could, if he wanted to, give me back my Gabbi in the blink of an eye- look- there was another one hidden in there that we did not notice.  It was all a mistake, your Gabbi is here in the nicu and ready to go home.  But somehow I don't think God is going to turn this into my holiday of freedom.

I have always hated pessach and this is just one more reason I guess.
Does anyone ever give  any thghout to the average Moe Mitzri?  Caught in a battle between a king he can't control and a God dhe has never heard of.  All he wants is to go on living his life, feeding his faamily, maybe having some some fun with a mistress or a good cup of beer on the side?  Maybe he is a painter or a scribe or a sculpture.  Maybe he is a cook or a butler to a wealthy merchant.  Heck maybe he is an unemployed bum who lives on the streets living on the generosity of the Jews for which they have always been known. 

Yet he is the one with no water to drink, frogs in his bed, no crops to eat and in the end no first born son to take over as head of his household.  He is the one caught between two worlds not of his own making stuck in a darkness so profound he can not even move let alone protect his loved ones or valuabless.

Who stands up for him and declares "This is not right!"  "This man has done nothing wrong and does not deserve to be punished like this".   No one.  No one does.  And why?  Because he is on the losing team.  No one has time to look out for him becaause they are all out trying to save their own hides.

And so Moe Mitzri dies alone.  Devestated and childless.  Perhaps beneath the waves of Yam Suf, perhaps out of desolation and heartbreak when he realizes he has nothing left for which to live.  

Someone should give a thought to that man caught in a battle between a king over whom he has no control and God that he doees not know exists.  Who is to say which side he would choose were he given an honest, face to face choice.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Feeling sad again.  Not sure how I am supposed to get through what was supposed to be a very special pessach.  I think my medication has mostly stopped working.  I feel like I just want to crawl into a hole and skip pessach all together.  I have barely stopped crying for days.  The nightmares are getting worse.  I listened to you- I have started letting Channah make me smile again, but once she goes to bed the darkness settles back in for the long haul.  Nights seem to last forever and my time with Channah goes by in the blink of an eye.  

It feels like the Berlin wall has settled in comfortably between me and Jason.  He does not mean to make me insane- in facct, he is doing everything he can to try to help.  It is not his fault his wife has gone from relatively normal to total fruitcake overnight.  He has no idea what to do with the shattered and miserable human being I have become.  How could he?  This was never something we saw in our future to prepare for.  

I am missing my family and feeling very homesick even though I know I would be miserable being stuck there.  I worry about everything- even those things that really don't need worrying about.  I am just a total and complete mess and I can't break out of it.  

I know everyone keeps telling me I am strong and I can get through this, but I am not this strong.  I am breaking.  It is taking every last bit of strength I have just to keep my brain from exploding into a million shards of glass and cutting everyone I know and love.  I am not strong enough to keep it together on my own and although Jason tries he has no idea what to say or do to help keep me together.

I am so stuck and my heart is so broken.  I don't think I can ever fix myself.  I see my life as if through glass box- everything happening around me is outside the box; I can see it all but I can't participate in any of it unless I leave the box.  But I can't find the exit, and I am scared I will hurt myself if I hit the box hard enough to shatter it.

I just want someone to tell me the hurt will go away.  That one day I will wake up and the pain and heart ache will be gone and I can go back to who I was before that whole miserable pregnancy.  I was happy with my little family as it was- then God made me want more- and then, right at the end, he took it away.  Now I want more so badly I can't even think straight.

Writing helps.  For the few minutes that I am actually trying to get the thoughts out it clears my head and lets me focus on just getting the words for the pain right and not on the pain itself.  For a few minutes I can put me outside of myself and look at the story as an objective narrator.

But in the end it comes back to me, sitting at my laptop, tears running down my cheeks and asking again and again "why me God?  What did I do to deserve this torment?" and knowing I will never, ever, ever get an answer.

I can't do it anymore.  I don't know how much longer I can hold myself together.  I am coming apart at the seams and so little is keeping everything together I might as well be a well loved but long forgotten teddy bear in the back of a closet somewhere.

God I am rambling.  What the hell is wrong with me?  My life is so upside down.
Time passes I guess.

Purim was a nightmare.  It was 2 weeks after we lost Gabbi.  2 weeks post surgery.  I made it to shul at night for my Channah's sake, and we did the minimum required mishloach manot. Good friends kept the seuda small and simple so we could go at a pace I could handle.  I still ended up crying on the couch.

It is now a month later and my kitchen is ready for the pessach that I thought would be so special- but it is just  another year.  In fact, as far as freedom goes I think I feel more for the average Joe Egyptian whose fate was decided by a king and a God well beyond his control than I do for the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who left Egypt singing and dancing and thanking God for the chance to live a life free in his service.  He is the one who had no water to drink, no crops to eat, and who lost his son to a fate well beyond his control.

We are going to neighbours for the seder and I still expect to spend most of it crying on the couch.

How much of the calendar cycle will I spend crying on my friend's couches over what should have been?  How many "festivals" will I spend miserable and just hoping to get it over with for another year.

This year Jason was supposed to have a little baby to dance with for Simchat Torah.  A little girl to take under the talit for Koll Hanearim.  Instead we have another calendar year with Channah getting too old for these things and no hope in sight for anyone else.

Time moves on.  I don't.
I have a serious problem.  I want to be pregnant again so incredibly badly that in my mind it has already "worked" for this month.  The chances are like 1 in a million or something like that- but so were the odds of what happened to Gabbi.

The only problem is that no matter how hard I tell  myself to let go of this pipe dream I am putting the odds at a million to 1 that I am in for a really, really supremely huge letdown that is going to send me spiraling into a major crash.

The 2 week wait always sucks big time.  This time it feels like an eternity.
Last night I had the strangest dream.

There was a group of children playing.  They were all maybe 3-4 years old and somehow I knew my Gabbi was amongst them.  There was an older teacher or leader or ganenet or something directing their play.  The children were all having a good time and playing with blocks and dolls and animals and food and money.

As I watched them I realized these children were not just playing, they were building.  Each play thing had a special spot and was being placed deliberately- but I was too far away to see what they were building.  It just looked like chaos with each of the children working on their own little section without really paying attention to what was going on around them.  It was like they knew they had to finish "their part" as quickly as they could.

As I moved closer I could see they were working on what looked like a giant model.  Slowly, before my eyes, these children were bringing to life the shape and daily activities of the Beit Hamikdash.  Slowly is dawned on me who those children must be.  Who else could have the zechut to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash but those untouched by the evils of this world.

The children were surrounded by adults looking on longingly wanting to help, but an angel with a fiery sword barred there way saying "you had your chance to do your part during your lifetime, and in your lifetime the Beit Hamikdash was not rebuilt- now it is there turn to try".

I looked around to try to figure out who was in charge of this building project- who was the ganenet who would even dream of taking on such a building project?  All I could see was a huge chair decorated with rubies diamonds, with a foot rest of the purest sapphire I have ever seen.  From the chair came the instructions.  No my Yossele, that menorah goes a little further to the left.  Oy my Sarale, did you fall down?  Let me make it better.  Yes my Gabbi, put that shiny gold box into that small room- that is a job I saved just for you.

All of you children would make your imma's and abba's so proud if they could only know what you were doing.  One day my children... one day soon.
Today should have been the baby naming,   It should have been one of the happiest days of my life.  Instead I am sitting here a total mess.  My medication isn't working.  I can't stop crying.  I can't get rid of these stupid lice.  I am just all around miserable and can't make the aching stop.  I don't know what to do anymore.  I can't move forward no matter how hard I seem to try, and obviously backwards is not an option.  God help me I am just stuck in a black hole that is sucking the life of me

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dear God,

How did this happen to me?  32 Weeks I was supposed to be safe.  Even were she to have been born then the statistics were in our favour for no long term damage.  Why did this happen to me?

I had done everything I was supposed to.  Everything was going perfectly.  I just don't understand why God.  What did I do that you should shatter me like this.  I am not strong enough for this and I can't keep going.  I am trying so hard but each "milestone" sets me back to far it feels like I am back in those first days.  So lost.

How could you do this to me?  I try to do everything you want- even fake it if I am having trouble understanding it, but this is no fake.  You broke my heart God.  You took a piece of me that I can never get back.  I know we learn that you never send a problem without already having a solution in place, so please God send the solution quickly.  My soul can't take much more of this torment.

A piece of my heart is missing and there is no way I can get it back through anyone but you.  You alone hold the keys to repair my mind and my spirit- to make my heart and soul whole and happy again.  On this, the holiday of freedom I feel enslaved to the pain of suffering of grief that I can not escape.  I am forced to work and take punishment by seeing all those around me reach their goals- but I am chained to my own sorrow.

This holiday to me is not about freedom.  There is no freedom from this hell I am living.  This holiday has become about empathizing with the average Egyptian- the one who had no say in what went on and just wanted to live his/her life to the best of his ability and serve his king in the only way he knew how- and still he was tortured by a God who he knew nothing about.  Did you expect him to rise up against his Pharaoh and join the revolution?  He was just one man.  How much can he bear.

I am just one woman God and I have reached the end of what I can bear.  I want only to serve my king the best way I know how- but keep suffering plague after plague and I have no way of being able to make them stop.

Please God let me find the freedom in this holiday.  Please send me a yeshua like you did all those years ago- a miracle that where everyone could see your almighty and awesome power.  Take me out and bring me to your holy mountain where I can rejoice in your word and continue to serve you in the best way that I, as a simple Jewish woman, know how- by raising more simple Jewish children to serve you in the best way that they will know how.

My tafkid in life is to be a Jewish wife and mother- let me fulfill my role to the best of my ability.  Please lead me out of the bondage of sadness and into the freedom that is the ability to fulfill that tafkid as best I can.

As always, praying for a fast and complete pregnancy,

your humble servant,
Had all gone according to plan Gabbi's baby naming would have been today and I would have been waiting up as late as I could until Shabbat was over in Toronto to pass on the name.  Instead, it is Saturday night, 1 day after my Gabbi should have come home with my from the hospital.  6 weeks since we found she never would.

It was a hard shabbat.  I kept thinking about what should have been, and praying for what could be.  Channnah has started davening for twins.  I'll take what I can get so long as it is healthy and full term.  Of course, I said that last time too and look where that got us- a perfectly healthy baby who managed to tie herself up in knots and was born asleep forever,

Tonight is a very hard night.  Everyone is changing over this kitchen's for pessach, but I just don't want to.  I don't want to know that time is moving on with my baby in the dirt somewhere in Jerusalem.  If only I could get pregnant again quickly that maybe some of the ache in my heart  would go away.  I know what poor planning that seems to be, that I should heal the ache first then think about moving on, but I also know myself well enough to know that is not going to be happen.

From yesterday's first post you can see I really am trying to move forward; to look for the positive in things and looks for the rays of light that will make it possible for me to find my way through this darkness.  I seem to be able to do it for a few minutes at a time then get thrown for a loop by something- and I never know what it is going to be.

Just saw in the local weekly news that the emergency centre has opened an emergency obgyn centre.  I wonder if that would have helped my little girl.  Great- another "I wonder" that I will never know the answer to.

Friday, April 15, 2011

All the positive thinking in the world can't make me forget that today is the day I should have been bringing my newborn home from the hospital and preparing for a naming at shul tomorrow morning.  I am trying so, so hard to focus on the positive, but I just can't get the sad out of my head.  It is like a dark cloud that I just can't push away no matter how hard I try.  It seems that no amount of sunlight can make the dark clouds go away permanently.

Will the weather in my brain never return to summer on a regular basis?
Channah is wearing dress up fairy/princess/bunny/bride/baton twirler/cheerleader/ rabbit/tinkerbell/vegas showgir/minie mousel costumes, singing and dancing around my living room to a gan CD full of cheesy old Israeli folk music. There are definitely things still worth living for.

Sorry people, sappy post ahead.

For today lets try something new.  I am going to try to make a list of things worth living for.

1. Channah.  There is no question in my mind that she is at the very top of my list of reasons I get up in the morning.  Even if this mornings task was poisoning both our heads to get rid of a family of lice that combing for 10 days straight just did not work to get rid of).  She can brighten even the darkest of days and her hugs are worth more than all the money in the world.  She was my first miracle baby and after everything she went through in her first few months she is still here- whole and strong and sweet and smart.  She is thoughtful and caring and everything I hoped my little girl would be.

2. Jason.  I have a husband who loves me for who I am and who stands by me even though I have gone crazy.  His belief is strong enough to make up for my questions.  His patience balances my hotheadedness.   There really is no other man on the planet who would be a better fit for me.

3. I am living my childhood dream of living in Israel where every step I take takes me in the footsteps of my ancestors.  My daughter gets to grow up living her history and her culture not just learning it out of dusty old books.

4. I have a roof over my head, enough food to eat and more, enough clothes to wear, clean drinking water, and access to good medical care and that puts me way ahead of a good percentage of the planet.

5. I have some of the best friends in the world and when it comes down to it I know they would do anything for me and I for them.  I have friends who have become my family over time and when people say you can't pick your family they are wrong- I have picked the best family anyone could ever ask for.

6. My real family.  We may bicker and argue and be spread to all corners of the world, but when it comes right down to it I am really lucky to have a family who love and care about each other and enjoy spending time together.  I am lucky enough to have known my great grand parents and to still have a Bubbie who I love and can talk to about anything.  I have cousins and cousins and more cousins who will fly all over the world to be at a simcha.  

7. A carefully rebuilt relationship with my father.  There are times we both walk on eggshells, but we have both worked very hard to get to where we are.

8. A family of inlaws who have, over time, become my second family.

9. 2 jobs that I love that allow me to use my talents and to spend my time doing things I love.

10. God granted me the ability to see those who need help and the heart to try to help.  Jason tells me my empathy is one of the things he loves most about me.  It is my compassion that makes me a huge part of who I am- it also that sensitivity that has made these last few weeks so impossibly difficult.  My father reminded me that if I did not have that inside me, sure the pain of the last few weeks might have been less, but I would not be the same Rachel that everyone above knows and loves.  I guess that as much as it can hurt me, it is a huge part of what makes me "go" and as such is worth living for.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One more thing.  About this "we are all upset, we are all crying with you, we are all grieving with you" nonsense.  I know you mean only the best, and I know each and every person who says it has only the best of intentions, but can we please put that line to rest once and for all.  You can be sad for me, you can grieve for what I lost, but no one, not even those closest to me can grieve WITH me.

*I* lost the life inside of me which I had spent every hour of the last 8 months looking after.  *I* am the one who gave up everything I had on my plate for 8 months.  *I* am the one who had surgery with no prise at the end- and *I* am the one who can not just pick up my life where I left off a few weeks ago and have everything go back to normal.

There *is* no normal for me now.  My dreams and plans for the future have been ripped out from under me.  I am slowly, very slowly, thread by thread trying to recreate the fabric that was my life- but pull on anyone too hard and the whole thing will unravel and leave me a knotted, twisted mess.

You would never go to a terminally ill patient and say I know exactly what you are going through and I am going through it with you.  It would be a parody of sympathy to even suggest such a thing.  Well what I have is terminal- it will never go away!  I will, and am, learning to deal with it, but unless you truly have been where I am standing, don't tell me you understand exactly what I am going through.

Cry for me.  Pray for me.  Wish for me.  For God's sake hold me and comfort me and tell me there is a light at the end of all this, but don't tell me you feel *my* pain.
Jason is out at softball and for the first time I am on my own for an entire evening.  I don't like it.  I can feel my thoughts going places I do not want them to go and while I keep trying to chain back into their little corner of my brain they are pulling harder and harder to get free.  If I was certain I believed in a yetzer harah I would think it was specifically trying to lead me down the path to self annihilation.  I won't give in to it- not tonight and hopefully not ever.  I just refilled all my scripts so I know there is well more than enough medication in the house to do it and it would likely be just like going to sleep and not waking up to any more heart ache, but I think, more like I hope, I have moved beyond that stage.

I know ow that there is still reason to get up.  My Channah needs me and though I might miss my Gabbi horribly, I can not turn away from what is right in front of me for what I can never have.  It is like a spoiled child saying if I can't have the toy I want I don't want to play with any of the toys- even if there are other perfectly good toys surrounding me.  It was ok while I was a child, still not in control of my emotions, but as I move towards more of a grade school stage of mourning I need to learn to share and get along with what I have.

I suppose the next stage will be adolescence where my emotions and hormones will be so out of whack no one will ever know what to expect of me.  Hopefully I will be the sort of emotional adolescent who watches and learns from the adults around me can be good influences and grow up to be a mature adult who can handle my emotions on my own with strength and sensibility.

I can still see and feel the void inside me where Gabbi should be.  It still looks like a long dark tunnel with no end in sight.  But onece in a while now I can get a small whiff of fresh air coming through the tunnel tell me there is an end somewhere in the distance and around the bend.  If I just keep myself going a little bit longer than maybe I will see the tiny speck of light that tells me the end of the darkness is in sight.  Even once I exit the tunnel, it will always be there.  A dark and terrifying place that my brain will return to from time to time whether I want it to or not- but I will also know that if I try I can put the tunnel back into it's box in the corner of my mind for a little while and keep walking in the sunshine.

I can see myself, years from now, walking in the sunshine hand and hand with my Channah.  Each of us with our own lives, our own desires, and our own memories.  While mine will always include that tiny face I saw only once in the operating room at Ein Karem, why should hers include decades of an eema to sad to move forward.

My Gabbi I will always love you and miss you and cherish the 8 months we had together.  And I know in your own way you will be there with us in that field filled with sunshine.  But you need to understand that for your sister's sake I neeed to find my way out of this darkness.  I know you would have loved her ad do not want her to live with an eema who is sad forever.

From tonight my dear Gabbi I am going to try to move forward.  I don't know how well it will work, but I am going to try.  Please God there will be more children- not to take your place- no one could ever do that, but to bring even more light and happiness into my life and to make the tunnel seem shorter and brighter.

Please my Gabbi, I truly believe you sit on my heavenly father's lap where he is tickling you and giving your beautiful neshama treats only a pure soul like yours, untouched by the evils of this world, can appreciate.  Please my Gabbriella Galit, take a moment to whisper in his ear the please of your mother, your father and your sister.  Take the power of your namesakes and be a force to be reckoned with.  Take the power of a woman who was able to rebuild her family from total destruction into a family living in Israel doing their best to believe that God has only our best at heart no matter how painful it may be.  Take power from the man who was the model of "if not me than who" and shatter the calmness of the heavens with waves of prayer so strong that the almighty can not ignore them.

It is said that Rachel cries for her children, and I promise you my Gabbi it will always be so- but in return I beg of you that you cry for me too.  Cry to our heavely father that he grant me the desires of my soul at the wishes of my heart.  Cry out to him that it better that your sister not be alone, and that your parents have someone else with whom to share the love we had reserved for you- that it not fester and go to waste somewhere in this long tunnel from which we can not exit.  Beg that we all find our way to the sunlight so that we might see the glory that is his overall plan and that we see only open and understandable brachot from here on out.

Cry for me my Gabbi and I promise, I will try to stop crying so  much for you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Other people have issues, and they resolve themselves, ad the they move on- so why can't I?  Why do I still cry at the drop of a hat?  Why do I still feel that there is a huge void inside of me that can never be filled?  Sometimes now, from Channah, I get some colours around the edges of the void- it almost seems like they might be able to break through and fill in the void with colour and light and laughter- but somehow they never quite make it.  It is like there is some rainbow bright bad guy who, once the colours hit a certain point, sucks all the colour out of the giant black hole into which I am spiraling.

Everyone, all the therapists, people I speak to, tell me I am reacting perfectly normally to a totally abnormal situation.  Babies don't just die at 32 weeks when there was nothing wrong with them- except for mine.  Why is my situation always the 1 in a million that no one else ever worries about?  Why do I have to live my life as the statistic that ignored everyone else?

A relative sent us a book aimed at Channah about what happened and dealing with the emotions involved and we just read it to her.  From her reaction it seems like it was  bang on accurate.  The problem with Channah is she always gives the answer she thinks you want to hear so she keeps telling us she is sad and happy- sad because she misses Gabbi, but happy because the rest of us are all ok and together.  It is a beautiful answer, but I am afraid she is just parroting back something she heard from someone same as when she repeats my questions about never knowing what colour Gabbi's eyes were.

I wish this were easier.  I wish I could make her pain and my pain and Jason's pain go away with the wave of a wand, but even an immas magic touch can't make that happen.

Channah tells us that now she is davening for twins- one of which at least should be a girl.  Hey- her davening seems to work so maybe we need to start looking for a bigger place.

As always, please continue to daven for a fast and uneventful pregnancy around here to help heal mind and spirit.
Had a pretty major breakdown last night.  I was in a position I could not get out of listening to 2 women complain about the aches ad pains of the 9th month and how one of them "did not even really want this kid anyway".  To put it mildly I did not take it well.  I had a major breakdown- made Jason come meet me to walk me home as I could barely stand up never mind walk straight to find my way.  I should have said something but I was way too busy trying not to bawl my eyes out or hit anyone.

After Channah was born a preemie I used to get furious when anyone talked about just wanting to get it over with early- you think I got angry then, just wait to see what happens when I get comments like that now!  Don't want the last 8 weeks no problem.  Lets see how you feel if your baby DIES and you still need to deliver the thing.  Lets see how thrilled you are not to have to go through your last month then.  Not that I wish it on anyone, but for God's sake people- know before you are speaking pertains to more than just prayer in shul.  If you do not know the stories of those around you and whether you might be seriously hurting someone, KEEP YOUR DAMN MOUTH SHUT!  No one ever insulted anyone by staying silent.

I keep thinking I am doing so well then I have a breakdown like last night.

Good god I want to be pregnant again.  I never complained when I was and I certainly wouldn't this time around.  My father, my king, please grant me the only wish of my heart and grant another pregnancy as quickly as humanly possible.  It is either that or you and everyone else get to watch my brain fall apart piece by piece.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today is the day that there should have been a post welcoming baby girl Swirsky and about how mommy and baby are doing great.  Instead I have 5 weeks worth of a blog that, when I look back seems at times like yesterday and at times like years ago.  I took extra anti-anxiety medication to try to make it through today.  It is really not working.  Not working at all.  

Add to that the fact that I have some sort of chest cold and am all stuffed up and coughing and I just want to crawl into my bed and cry my eyes out but my inlaws are here and that would be the last thing that I need. 

I just hope that from today onwards I can start moving more steadily forward away from this funk and get back into my life.  

I was doing pretty well here for a while until I got to this week.  Channah could make me smile again.  I actually enjoyed myself in Jerusalem.  I even found myself starting to listen to music.  Today I feel like I want to light a ner neshamah and sit on the floor with ashes and sack cloth.  

My God I want my baby.  It's not fair.  I want to scream it to the heavens but what difference would it make? I could use a nice stiff drink but somehow I suspect it would not get along so well  with my medication.  Funny to think that if I were not on so much medication I might be well on my way to being an alcoholic.

I got some books in the mail today from my aunt about grieving and mourning for a child who was never born.  Could not have come at a better time.  I will probably crawl into bed fairly early and read/cry until I fall  asleep.  It also included a children's book about a child who was supposed to have a sibling and got an angel instead.  I will read it to Channah- but not until I am feeling strong enough to have the proper conversation surrounding it with her.
Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to go to the kotel for the first time since my life fell apart.  I was dreading it.  I was a crying mess before I even made it down the steps.  I watched my husband tear kriah (for not having been at the kotel in more than 30 days) and knew in my heart he was tearing it also for a daughter he never got to mourn.  I had Jason tell his mom to hang back a little so I could have some quiet time with just Channah, and the two of us approached the wall.

Now the truth is, from a prayer point of view I have never really been "into" the kotel.  I was fascinated by it from a historical point of view.  Quite interested in it's cultural significance.  But from a prayer point of view I never really understood connection.  Aren't we taught that we can daven to Hashem from anywhere at any time?    Why should I really believe that there is a "direct line" so to speak from one specific spot on earth (especially one that was only, at its' peak, the retaining wall of a ,mountain and side of a shopping street.

I can understand the cultural aspect of being pulled to it as a place that Jews have chose to worship for hundreds of years being a strong tie to history and as such a place where prayer has been "build up" so to speak- but as an actual "this place is better than any other by design/creation"- that I have always had a big problem with.

This time, I helped Channah's hand as I approached the wall and I was crying and trembling already.  For the first time ever we managed to get a seat right up against the wall.  I put my arm against the wall, laid my head on my arm, and started sobbing- big, hiccuping, loud sobs that in retrospect were probably driving the people around me nuts- but something came over me and I just could not stop.

Channah asked me what I was doing and I said I was having a conversation with Hashem.  She asked how I knew what he answered and I told her I just told him everything I wanted to say and just hoped he was listening.

I cried for Gabbi.  I cried for the hopes and dreams that I lost.  I cried for having my beliefs torn out from under me.  I begged for another child.  Begged to go back to being happy with just Channah.  Begged to have my brain fixed so that I could move forward.  I cried and begged until suddenly, I just stopped.  I was all cried out- obviously not permanently, but for those few minutes I felt almost at peace with myself.  Dumb as it sounds I felt almost like God had taken off some of the pressure- just for a few minutes.

As far as crying went it was, well, almost cathartic.  I don't know if any of this makes sense, and I don't know if anyone else would have felt the same way, but I felt, for those few minutes, that I was with the Avinu who loved me and wanted to comfort me rather than with the Malkeinu who took my baby away.

As for the rest of the weekend away, well I think in a lot of ways the change of scenery was good for me.  It was like being able to take a short break from my nightmare and step outside my life for a little bit.  Being that I "was not really me" I could enjoy myself without feeling guilty.  I had a breakdown Saturday night at the end of shabbat, but that was related to the date and will be covered in my next entry not in this one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why is there no shiva for a child lost before her time?  I was talking to a long time mentor and he suggested that perhaps it is one of those ways in which Halachah has not kept up with modern science.  When Chazal wrote it, losing a pregnancy was more the norm than the exception.  People might not have gotten as attached to a fetus in utero as they do today.   I know in my case, the minute I got that positive test, I was in love.  I would do anything for that tiny seed inside me- and I did.

For 8 months I went through hell to keep that baby safe.  If was a high risk pregnancy to begin with, but anything my doctor told me to do I did.  Stick your butt in a chair and keep it there until week 36- no problem.  Eat only celery, techina and string cheese for the next few months, and oh yeah, don't forget to come in so we can stab you with things a million times a week?  No problem.  I was completely and totally dedicated to this tiny person that I had no even met.

The truth is, I think he was right, but I think it goes further than that.

I had so many ultrasounds I thought I saw more of her than my older daughter!  From the time the fetus was 8 weeks old I could see it.  By 14 weeks I knew it was a little girl and could dream of all the things we would do together.  By 25 weeks I could see her profile had my brother's nose and my daughters long fingers.  She was not just a parasite inside me, from day 1 she was a person- my daughter.

My Rebetzin talks about how it is not good to get attached to the unborn- but when you wait so long and pray so hard how can you not?  It seems like a slap in the face to God to say "you have given me this amazing bracha and ness to cherish, and I am going to pretend it is not there".

I can honestly say that please God there will be a next time (soon I beg) and even if I wanted to I would not be able to stay "unattached".  Even knowing the pain that I know now I doubt that I would treat the fetus any differently.  I would watch him/her grow from a tiny seed to someone recognizable.  I would have names running through my head (in fact, that has already started and there is not a thing I can do about it.  God is master of my thoughts and if he does not want them there he can take them away).

My relationship with my daughter, no matter how short and how painful in the end is not something I would give up.  My dreams for her will live in my head forever, and I know she will spend eternity watching over my shoulder.  Speaking for me in Gods ear and praying on my behalf when I am to sad or broken to do so myself.  I know she will be at every simcha, every celebration, every birthday I celebrate and every shabbat at candlelighting.  I also know that in 120 years I will be reunited with my Gabbi and however short my relationship with her seemed in this world, it will last an eternity in the next one.
Avinu Malkeinu- my father, my king.  Which comes first now.  Are you my king in that I need to fear you, pay tribute to you, and live in awe of what you can do?  Or are you my father who I can cry to when I am in pain- who can wrap tight in a warm cloak and keep me safe from the big scary world around me.    Are you a harsh master who can take my child for your service without my permission or are you a kindly grandfather sitting with your grand daughter on your knee making her laugh with tickles and treats.

How do I, as a mother who has lost my child to you, reconcile the two?  

Adonai- my master- he who controls everything I see and do.  Everything I think and feel.  He who is the master of all of creation- who brings the seasons and the rain.  The only one who can send a child, and the only one who can take one.  I have always been against capital punishment on the grounds that we should never take what we can not return- but that does not apply to you.    If you wanted to could return my Gabbi in a heartbeat.  It would be no more difficult for you than causing a blade of grass to grow.  Only you won’t; because that is not the nature of things, and you work within nature.  

But the way of nature is not to take a child before a parent!  It is not to leave a mother to grieve for a baby who will never breath, never laugh, never play under the trees and the sun that you have created for just such a purpose.  

Dayan ha’Emet.  My judge who knows what is truly in my heart.  Judge me not harshly for what I have done.  I know there have been plenty of times I have done wrong.  Been impatient, been angry, taken things not meant for me.  But for the last many years I have tried to be the best daughter to you I could be.  I care for other people and try to teach my daughter to do the same.  I think about my words and again try to have her do the same.  I get the bracha all of the time that I should be able to raise more children just like my Channah- so why would you take away the opportunity to let me try?

Elohim- my creator, please create within me the seed to allow me to grow another child quickly that I can one again feel a child move within me.  Create within me the fulfillment of being a parent to many children, and the a good wife for a good man.  Allow me to imitate your ways and to create a home filled with sunlight and laughter and children.  

God grant me the ability to walk in your ways and to understand the pain you have sent me.  I beg of you to send only revealed brachot and smachot all the days of my life and the lives of my family.  Please protect those I love from the the pain you have sent me and any other pain in your arsenal.  Allow us all to live long and happy lives, to dance at simchas and rejoice as we watch generations born.  God grant peace and happiness's to all of mankind.  Amen.