Finding Nora's Light: The Anger Within

(Go back to read the previous blogs in the series Finding Nora’s Light)

I couldn’t believe we were about to tell our daughter she wasn’t going to get the sister she was so excited for, and that we would be going home to a room that would never be made ready for our baby girl (we had literally just started setting up her room, but it wasn’t finished yet).  My inlaws were bringing the kids back home after we got settled, and we were fighting back the tears waiting on them.  I had to have assistance getting out of the car and seated on the couch.  Feet up and pillow over my belly was to be my new main position for the next little while.  I could already tell the immobility was going to get to me, and the bitterness of having surgery was starting to creep in.

The kids came running in ready to jump on us for big hugs, and it sucked to tell them that they couldn’t jump on or sit on mommy right now.  Marlee understood, but I knew I’d constantly have to remind Beau & Sheppard… I mean, they were only 2 years old.  We were sitting on the couch holding her memory box, her blanket, an angel bear, a bigger soft stuffed bear, and a little pillow.  The memory box was provided by the hospital containing her picture, hand & foot prints, locks of hair, the hat, bow, & shirt she was wearing when we held her, and other keepsakes & helpful items for parents suffering loss. We had a bonus box of stuff that a friend from my mom group sent from the hospital she works at to make sure we had plenty of ways to capture feelings/memories and ways to ease the pain.

The first thing Marlee said was “Are these loveys for Nora?”, and I told her they were loveys OF Nora for her (Marlee).  She was wide-eyed and so confused at first, but we went on to explain that we had been away for a few days at the hospital because Nora didn’t make it to live with us on Earth, so she and her brothers would have a guardian angel.  “Wait, so she’s in Heaven?”, she asked.  “Yes, yes she is.”, we told her.  She started crying with us as we explained that not all babies are meant to be Earth babies, and it’s okay to be sad about it.  After a little while, David took the twins upstairs to start the bedtime routine and give me some alone time with Marlee.  I gave her the loveys and we looked through the box together.  She asked a lot of questions, including “So, now that Nora’s in heaven, she knows all the answers to all the questions, doesn’t she?”.  THIS GIRL of ours is so special!  She asked if Nora could go skating or eat ice cream anytime she wanted, and all I could say was “I’m sure she can” with tears in my eyes.  We talked about her for a little while longer and cried a little more.  This was so hard, but she really handled it well.  As I tucked her into bed that night, she said “but I really wanted a sister, mama”… “I really wanted you to have one too”, I said as her words rang in my head.

That first night at home left me feeling numb.  The previous few days had been a blur, and it wasn’t over yet.  I was happy to be home with my family, but devastated that we didn’t or wouldn’t be bringing a baby home with us.  I was able to get upstairs (where our bedroom is), but had to use a step stool to get up into bed, which wasn’t really working well because I couldn’t really use my core (the next day David took it off the frame, and we think we’ll just leave it on the ground from now on).  I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom at least every two hours to prevent pain from a full bladder, which leads to a lot of up & down, but it was necessary.  It is CRAZY how much you use your core throughout the day to do most things.  I felt so weak, and I started getting more & more angry that I was having to go through this.  And, I could now see the added layer of difficulty for c-section mamas who do bring home a newborn while having to recover from SURGERY. Bless all of you!

Over the next few days I could feel my denial turn to anger.  I wasn’t angry at anyone, really.  I mean, David had stepped up to do most everything for the kids (and he was already a very hands-on dad before), and for me, for that matter.  I wasn’t angry with the doctors, or even God.  I used to think “Why me?” when bad stuff would happen, but I’ve come to a place in my spirituality over the last handful of years to view that questioning of God as selfish.  No one is singled out, we are all connected, and we must move forward using what happens to us for some kind of good, no matter how bad it is.  Yet, I still felt this rage inside.  I had some ugly moments of yelling/snapping at my kids, which led to Mom Guilt (it was a vicious cycle)… it was extremely hard on me mentally not to be able to do much with or for them, and it was hard on them that I wasn’t able to pick them up and play with them.

It hurt to sneeze or cough (pressing into your belly with a pillow was suggested if you had to do either of these for at least the first week, to ease the pain). It hurt to bend over or lay on my side.  I couldn’t go from sitting to standing or vice versa without awareness of my hand & feet placement for support.  I had to keep the incision dry and clean. No baths (just showers), no swimming, no driving, no sex, no exercise, no carbonation, no lifting anything over 5 lbs at first.  I was angry that I had to take pain meds, which alter my nature anyway.  The pain of everything reconnecting inside was intense.  Everything gets so out of whack when you have to make room for a baby in your body, and even more so when you’re cut & held open while things are moved around more to remove the baby.  Nerves firing back and gas pains took my breath away.  I knew life was forever changed, not just for me but for our whole family, yet I couldn’t wait to move passed this moment. This physical pain was a constant reminder of what happened and what would never be.

It was hard for David to watch me go through surgery, plus everything that comes along with delivering a baby.  I still bled, my milk still came in, my uterus still contracted causing cramping, my hormones still fluctuated leading to crazy emotions & night sweats… even though my baby was born still.  I did consider pumping and donating my breast milk, but I realized I probably wouldn’t be strong enough (emotionally) to handle that, so the drying up process began immediately (which was unpleasant).  This is just never something you think you’ll go through as a woman, as a hopeful mom, as a mom.  So, the question was still there… WHY?  We were waiting on results from the placenta & chromosome testing, hoping for answers, but we knew that answers wouldn’t bring her back.

This anger was different for me because I’ve become a very positive person (and that kind of made me more angry that I was now filled with anger… ironic, right?!).  I was working to recognize that this didn’t have to be my new normal, but it was a stage of grief that must evidently need to be felt.  So, I decided to embrace all the feelings as they came my way.  It has been a tremendous help to receive so many texts, messages, cards, gifts, and food over the first few weeks, and we are so very thankful to have such a loving & supportive community near & far.  THANK YOU!  David and I are determined to shine a light through this storm of sadness, but some moments are just so heavy & dark.  This was meant to be for a reason… it may be a long time before we know why, and we don’t have to like it.  We are in this together. We have three amazing kiddos who need us.  We have an angel baby.  We all have life left to live, and Nora will always be with us.

Jessica Sanford