Triggers

by Kathy on July 19, 2008 · 10 comments

in Bob, Loss, Molly, Sean

This afternoon we went to our niece’s 2nd birthday party. I wasn’t particularly nervous about the event. I wasn’t feeling fragile or emotionally unstable. I knew we would see my sister-in-law (SIL) who is full term and due in a few weeks with her second child, our niece’s first sibling. I was aware that Bob’s brother and our SIL had finished the baby’s room last weekend and that we might see it while at their home, with the crib, changing table and other such things you prepare in a room for a newborn. I realized that many of their friends who would be at the party would have young children and a few would even have babies that were born earlier this year. However none of that concerned me, I felt prepared, even excited to spend time with Bob’s family and celebrate with Sean’s only girl cousin/our niece an awesome milestone in her life.

When we arrived I wasn’t expecting to see a bassinet in their living room, that Bob’s sister had brought for his brother and our SIL to use for the new baby. The living room was the main gathering place, at least at the beginning of the party, and thus it was hard to avoid looking at it and letting my mind wander to what might have been and who else could be sleeping in a bassinet right now. But, amazingly seeing the bassinet really didn’t phase me. There was talk about Bob’s brother and our SIL baby’s impending arrival. However, I had prepared myself for this and it wasn’t that big of deal. I was doing okay with it all. I even willingly went upstairs to look at their baby’s room and the birthday girl’s newly painted and decorated big girl room. I thought they both looked great and shared that with our SIL genuinely.

When we first got there there were only family members from both sides of their family. People we know well and that I feel comfortable around most of the time. Slowly some of Bob’s brother and our SIL’s friends and children began to arrive. These were also friends of theirs that we have known for years, these friends know what we have been through with Molly (some even sent us cards after she was born and died) and I was glad to see them.

What happened next wasn’t on my radar and what I wasn’t prepared for were the next guests to walk in the door. They were neighbors from down the street. We hadn’t met them before. First the wife/mother came into the living room with their adorable two year old son (who my SIL refers to as our niece’s first “boyfriend”). My SIL started introducing us all to them and I was happy to meet such a nice family that lives on their block. Then her husband/the little boy’s daddy came in holding a newborn baby girl. At that moment my heart sank and I felt like time had stopped. I heard someone, I think maybe my mother-in-law (MIL), ask how old the baby was and what it’s name was. I heard one of the baby’s parents respond “4 weeks and her name is Maggie.” My mind quickly did the math and sure enough that is about how hold Molly would be now had she survived and be born via c-section about a week or two before her due date (June 28).

Molly, Maggie, Maggie, Molly… 4 weeks old… a newborn baby girl… We were suppose to be the ones with a newborn at our niece’s 2nd birthday party, not the neighbors from down the street. Or at least there should have been two newborn baby girls there today, not just one.

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and I realized I had to get out of there, so I got up and left the room. I think I said something about checking on Sean who I thought had gone outside to play. The moment I stepped out into the backyard I put my sunglasses on to try to mask the impending waterfall. I found Bob and he could tell something was wrong. I told him “there’s a four week old baby girl in there named Maggie” and then I lost it. He gave me a hug and stood with me while I cried. Luckily at that point there weren’t many others outside besides some kids playing and family guys who were drinking beer and talking cars in the garage. Both groups seemed oblivious to my emotion, which was fine by me.

I told Bob that I didn’t think I could handle the rest of the party. Right then it was impossible for me to imagine surviving the rest of the event, having to go back into the house for cake and presents, seeing their neighbors’ baby girl, making small talk with family and friends and not focusing on missing our baby girl. I said that I wanted to go home, that I didn’t want to make big scene and ruin our niece’s special day. I knew I would be okay if I could just get away from all the people, the newborn baby girl and have some time to myself to have a good cry and process my feelings.

Bob encouraged me to take all the time I needed to try to relax and calm down outside until I felt ready to return to the party inside. I told him that I know myself and that I really thought it would be best for me to go home. I was impressed that after I said that, that he really seemed to have heard what I was saying and he was supportive and willing to take me home and then come back to be with Sean and represent our family at the party. So that was the plan, at least at that moment.

Next my MIL came outside and asked what was wrong. I told her that I was just having a hard time with there being a four week old baby girl with a name that sounded a lot like Molly’s inside at the party. She was very compassionate and gave me a big long hug. I told her that Bob was going to take me home. At first she tried to convince me to stay and said that everyone understood that this was a very hard time for me. I explained that I just didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and call attention to myself on a day that was supposed to be very festive for our niece and her parents. Then my MIL stopped trying to talk me into staying and was supportive of my feeling the need to leave. I appreciated her empathy and understanding.

Before Bob and I got the chance to make a quiet exit, the food (Bob’s brother and our SIL had ordered pizzas and pasta) was delivered for dinner. I was hungry and so when Bob and my MIL asked if I would like to have some before we left and offered to bring me a plate to eat outside, so I didn’t have to go inside and get it myself, I gratefully accepted. Interestingly, as I began to eat, I started to feel a bit better. Next my MIL fixed a plate for Sean and he wanted to sit on my lap while he ate it. I found during our journey with Molly that when Sean is present much of the time I find it easier to deal with my emotions. Having him physically close to me is comforting and I am reminded of his innocence, what a sweetheart he is and how blessed and lucky I am to have him in our life, to be his mother. Through filling my empty stomach with tasty sausage pizza and my lonely heart with my dear son’s unconditional love and attention, my feelings of sadness and envy became less prevalent.

The next thing I knew I wasn’t feeling so overwhelmed. My niece’s birthday party was no longer scary to me and a painful reminder of our baby girl not being in our arms today. I asked Molly in Heaven to help give her Mommy the strength to get through this day/this event and I realized that I could do it. I told Bob and my MIL that I was feeling better and thought I would be able to stay and enjoy the party with everyone else after all. They both were glad to hear it and continued to be very empathetic and supportive of what I was going through.

From that moment on I was able to interact with various family members and friends at the birthday party more “normally.” I felt willing and able to go back inside for our niece’s cake and presents. I resumed my role as our family photographer and got some great snapshots of our niece relishing in her birthday celebration. I was so glad that I was able to be there to see the joy in our niece’s face when we all sang “Happy Birthday ” to her and to witness her opening the gifts we had picked out for her (“Fancy Nancy” dress up clothes), including a cute and very fancy purple hat with ribbons and a big flower on it, that she loved and proceeded to wear for much of the rest of her party!

I was even able to be around Maggie, the four week old newborn, as time went on and separate her sweet face and special life from our daughter’s. I was able to look at her parents and her two year old older brother and be happy for them that they had been blessed with a beautiful family of four. I still couldn’t bring myself to really interact with the family much or make small talk about their new baby. But I knew no one expected that of me and they certainly had plenty of other people to talk to.

Anyway, I am proud of myself that I made it through my niece’s birthday party today. I know that it would have been fine if I had gone home and that our family would have understood that I was taking care of myself and doing what I felt I need to do at the time. However, I am glad that it played out as it did and that I didn’t miss this special time in our niece and family’s life.

I know there will be many more “triggers” in the days and months to come that will call to my mind and to my heart the pain of not having our Molly-girl with us here on earth. However, I know that with my faith and the love and support that we continue to be so blessed with from our family and friends that I will survive (and maybe even learn from) those experiences as I did today.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to process all of this here. May God continue to bless you and your loved ones.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristie July 19, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for sharing. I understand, just a tiny bit, when Leah was in the hospital I was so jealous and sad to see “normal” newborns. However my experience no where compares to yours. I am proud of you for being strong enough to stay for the party I am sure that is what Molly would have wanted.

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2 Cindi July 19, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Although I’m a lurker here, I feel compelled to comment on this post. But all I can say is that you are a stronger woman than I. You were able to get through an emotional situation with guidance, grace, and dignity. I doubt I would have been able to do the same.

I continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

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3 SommerNyte July 19, 2008 at 11:18 pm

My eyes welled up with tears just reading how you felt when Maggie arrived at the party. I could never even pretend to know what you are feeling, but I had moments like those when you just want to run away and lose yourself in your heartache, and they are so hard to deal with. You handled it beautifully. (((hugs)))

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4 Natalie July 20, 2008 at 12:11 am

Oh boy… it felt like a punch to *my* gut when I read that. If someone walked in with a baby around what age Devin would be, especially with a name close to his… game over, no go. I am really glad your family understood and allowed you to regain your composure outside.

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5 k@lakly July 20, 2008 at 10:38 pm

I have found those ‘triggers’ the hardest of al because thwy come at you from nowhere. You prepare yourself for what you think is every possible situation and then BAM you get hit with the emotional two by four.
My big one, four weeks after I lost my Caleb, was finally getting it together enough to set foot into my daughters kinder class for the first time to volunteer/work with the kids. The teacher sat me down at the phonics center and told me to call the kids back one by one and then go over the reading cards with them. How hard could that be I thought. Then I looked down at the list to call the first child back to me. Caleb. First name on the list.
Took everything I had not to get up and run out of the class and dive into a bottle of xan@x.
Sigh.
Hugs to you on making it through what had to have been excruciating, with so much grace.
xxoo

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6 Fertilized July 20, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Hugs to you

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7 Mrs Woggie July 21, 2008 at 3:28 am

What a difficult and emotional day for you. You did so well by getting through each day. Molly would be proud of her mummy.

(Posting from ICLW)

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8 Dreams Come True July 21, 2008 at 8:59 am

Thank you for sharing that story. You are such a strong woman. I am so continuously amazed by your strength, that comes across with each and every post.

Molly was smiling at you from heaven. Helping Sean give you the peace and strength to get through that day.

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9 seriously? July 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Here from ICLM, although I have been lurking for a while. I got very emotional reading this post, wondering if I could handle it the way you did. You really are a kind and strong woman. Thinking of you.

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10 T-Mommy July 21, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Your post brought me to tears. It must have been a very difficult moment and situation to handle but your little Molly heard you and will be guiding every step, every hour, and every minute each and every day.

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