Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 47 - {arms filled again}

DSC05076 edit

One of the difficult symptoms of my grief after Benjamin died was painfully Empty Arms. It is strange. I don't know if I could really understand it without having lost a baby myself, but even though I held him for only one day, my arms seemed to think that he was still there. For literally months afterward, it felt like there was a huge empty chasm between them almost all the time.

At night it was the most torturous. I would sleep with the blanket that he had been wrapped in, only that didn't feel substantial enough, so sometimes it was a pillow, too. Maybe it's kind of like an amputee's phantom limb pain, only less physical and more emotional.

Church could be agonizingly difficult. My arms and lap stretched so terribly wide open. The only thing that helped was to hold one of my other sons. Luckily Hummer was up to that, so I would hold his huge 4- and then 5-year-old self on my lap and squeeze, trying to make the pain go away.

Even though I never heard Benjamin cry, I kept thinking I could hear him crying. With the boys home from school making all kinds of noise, and me trying to fix dinner, I would often pause suddenly because I thought I heard Benjamin and needed to go take care of him. (Incidentally, even now that Rosebud is here, I can be sitting in the recliner with her and Exacto, Fluffy, and Hummer all around me, and still have this sense of, "Where's Benjamin? I need to go make sure he's okay.")

When Rosebud was first placed in those aching arms of mine, the relief that swelled over me was like a tidal wave mixed with love specific to her. I couldn't stand to let her go to anyone else. But my blood pressure was so haywire from the recent surgery and epidural that I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane, so that did kind of make it necessary for me to allow, say, DC to hold her.
And my parents, I guess. :)

DSC09990 edit
I imagine the nurses who took care of me afterwards thought I was a nutcase. I literally held my new baby all night long most of the nights we were in the hospital. I groaned where the nursery came to get her. It was slightly ridiculous. But how could they understand the relief and gratitude I was finally feeling? From pain that had yawned open like a grand canyon I was finally delivered!

The relief of this seems to be quite separate from the grief of missing my youngest son. I have actually been a little surprised at how strong the sadness still is when I think of never seeing him again in this life--I still cry over his absence.

I would give absolutely anything to have Benjamin still here. Every time I take a picture of my boys with their new baby sister I yearn to see what that picture would have looked like with all of my children. I hate it when people look at our family and say, "Wow, three boys and now a girl finally!", never knowing that actually we have four sons. For the rest of my life, it will never be "the whole family" anywhere we go. That hurts and always will.

0121 to 0131

But at least I don't have that horrible emptiness in my arms anymore.
100 days of gratitude tag


Oh, how grateful I am to be toting around a 9-pound-6-ounce baby all day! Yes, all day. :) I still am ravenous almost all the time to hold her. I have been known to hold her through a 2-hour nap or longer. We sleep most of the night with one of my arms around her.

I Thank Thee with all my heart, Heavenly Father, for filling my arms again!

018 edit


Becky said...[Reply to comment]

You are blessed, dear sister.

David and Kaitlyn said...[Reply to comment]

I love this post. I can't stand to let Rosalie go either. I hold her when she's awake and I hold her when she's asleep. She's never slept more than 20 minutes at a time without being held. My house is a mess and sometimes I don't get a shower until David gets home... but I don't care! Our girls are only going to be so little for a short time and I'm going to soak it up! I say we "spoil" them rotten! I'm so happy your arms are filled and that your family will one day be whole again. I love you!

Nancy said...[Reply to comment]

Wow, Michelle! Very well put! I'm so glad your arms are filled again. The pictures are adorable. I would so LOVE to hold that sweet Rosemary. She is so cute! Are Clyn and Russell your photographers? That last picture is so sweet.

snbjork said...[Reply to comment]

Rosebud is quite the blessing, isn't she? All of your beautiful children are. I miss them and you! And I love that little girl even though I haven't had the privilege of meeting her yet!

Real said...[Reply to comment]

I have a friend who had a baby die at a few weeks old. And then she was suddenly pregnant again and had the second baby on the first baby's birthday. (this was actually #4 and 5 for her, I think). Anyway, I've seen her post pictures on facebook with her angel baby photoshopped into the picture. I know it's not quite the same, but it seems to be very helpful for her to see everyone all together.

This was a beautiful piece of writing that helped me to understand so much more.

Real said...[Reply to comment]

Oh! I see you already have done that. Beautiful.

Amy Kay said...[Reply to comment]

Michelle, you are so strong, I love you. I am also overjoyed that your arms are once again filled with that sweet daughter of yours. Benjamin loves you and you will get to see him and love him again. You are such an inspiration to me.

Jodi said...[Reply to comment]

Hello, (This is Cindi's sister) Thank you for this very touching post. It makes me a little more grateful for what I have.

Andre said...[Reply to comment]

I know how you feel! When I was in the hospital having Colby we let the nurses know about Austin so they would know why I was so protective of Colby. Even now only a couple of very good friends babysit him for me because I'm so protective of him.

I'm so glad that Rosebud is helping you feel better. Glad you are doing well!

Annalisa said...[Reply to comment]

wonderful to have them full again.

Martie said...[Reply to comment]


How exciting to hear from you! I am not sure that you remember me at all, but I definitely remember the little you very well. How did you find my blog? I have wanted to "friend" you on FB for some time, but I didn't think you would have a clue who I am.

I love your blog! And I am deeply sorry for your loss. My friend Amy just lost her 11-month-old daughter, and is has been heart breaking. I would love to direct her towards your blog. It is all so new for her.

So, thank you for your visit and your kind comment. I look forward to getting to know the grown up you! :O)


Vauna said...[Reply to comment]

Michelle, you are so amazing and beautiful.
Thank you for opening up about these things. I love getting to know you through your blog. I feel like I get a real glimpse into your heart and soul.
I can't wait til I can open up this way on my blog again.