Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Retirement and 9 months

Yeah...so, I retired from my job.  Sounds silly, I know, but I did.  My dad and I are actually retiring together!  Crazy!!!!  It feels really strange to not have a job anymore.  I mean, you go to school, you get a job, and you work...until you're older.  (I don't mean like an elderly person, but older than 30, typically)  Basically, the situation of our lives led us to consider my retirement.  When I was pregnant with Caroline, there was no question that I was going back to work after she was born.  I was going to take a respectable 3 months off and begrudgingly go back to work.  Well, things didn't go according to plan.  I think I ended up having to take about a month off.  I don't know if I really had any business going back even then, but I figured I had to do something...make some kind of move.  And so I worked, but I never found my place again.  I felt like everyone was playing from a different sheet of music than I was.  I had lost my stride.  I lost my spark...I lost a part of my heart. 

There were so many days that I would just break down, right there at my desk.  I'd face the wall in hopes that no one would notice, but I'm sure people did.  I'm sure they could even hear me sometimes.  Grief is so heavy, and I struggled to carry it while pretending to be okay and able to handle the responsibilities of my job.  Granted, the people I worked with and for were gracious and sweet...but it was still difficult for me.

Then we got pregnant with little Addalee.  That was a bit of a shock...to everyone!  Having her in our lives is an absolute blessing straight from God, I never want to discount that.  But, the stress of a new pregnancy and trying to work...I was really struggling.  I couldn't handle anything!  I got choked up in meetings!!!  It was not fun.  Eventually, my pelvic condition landed me working from home most days, and that helped me out tremendously.  But, the more we thought about the future, and tried to envision being parents to a baby at home with us, we realized how much it meant to us for me to stay home.  So, they prayer and considerations began.  There were days where I was gung-ho, and days that I was NEVER leaving my job...the financial security was a very big deal!  Finally, I felt the gentle guidance of the Lord telling me that I needed to leave.  And while I have peace about it, it's still so scary!  I mean, leaving a job in this economy! 

If I'm honest, part of my fear is that I'm somehow being presumptuous about Addalee's safe (and live) arrival.  It's kind of like counting your chickens before they hatch.  I realize that this probably makes me sound like a nutjob, and that's fine by me.  I also feel that way about buying diapers, hanging her initials on the wall above her crib (the one bought and set up for her big sister, Caroline).  I feel like I should wait for the other shoe to drop even as Addalee kicks me (HARD) as I type this.  I feel like I shouldn't get too excited.  I shouldn't feel too comfortable.  I should expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised (if) when it doesn't happen.  As a side note, I realize how crazy this sounds...I'm just being completely honest here.  I know that it's not "normal" to feel this way about the upcoming (only 7 more weeks!) birth of your child.  I truly do have hope, but I'm scared to get comfortable in it.

I wish I could face the world and say that I feel great, all the time about this pregnancy and its outcome.  I wish I could say that my prayers for Addalee's arrival didn't include the word "alive" or that I don't ask God to give Caroline the message that we love her and miss her. But, I simply cannot.  You see, losing Caroline has shaken me...to my very core.  This whole thing has been a complete life changer.  It has touched each area of my life in one way or another.  Caroline affected me, and I'm so thankful for her.  But the loss affected me too...and it left me timid, afraid...broken.  Yes, I'm functioning.  Yes, I am blessed.  I realize this, and do not want to seem ungrateful.  But, there will always be a part of me missing.

I was talking to Addie in my belly the other day, and absent-mindedly called her Caroline.  I don't know why I'm sharing this, because it's somehow embarrassing to me.  I guess I shouldn't be embarrassed because people with more than one living child get the names messed up occasionally...heck, I've even called my husband by the dog's name before!!! :)  But I felt bad when I made this slip up.  I felt more than bad.  I felt guilty to each of the girls for different reasons.  It felt like a betrayal to each of them.

I've been kind of hiding out because of all that's been going on in life.  As I said, I don't handle stress very well these days, and it's kind of making me clam up - I know you can't tell by reading this rambling post...but it feels good to get some of this out there!  But it's been 9 months now since we lost Caroline.  And it's gotten easier to carry the grief, but it's still noticeably there, each and every day.  I miss that girl.  I miss her soft cheeks.  I miss her long fingers.  I miss her.  We had a whole life planned with her, and now I have a whole life planned to remember her.  I'm so excited that I do get to see her again...I can't imagine living without that sweet promise.  Thank you, Lord!

So, little Caroline, we still think of you all the time.  Me and your Daddy talk about you each and every day.  I even still sleep with that little pink and white blanket of yours.  You're always and forever our sweet girl.  And we sure do miss you!


  1. I felt the exact same way. Everything you are saying and describing is normal in my opinion.It wasn't until I was 7 cm dilated with Emily that I totally lost it and cried and kept saying, "This might really happen! We might really have a baby now!" Even after she was born, I didn't get FULLY excited until I repeatedly got reassurance from the nurses that she was doing great. I didn't prepare anything at home either. I washed the few things we'd need if the baby actually came home, put it in bins, put it in her closet and SHUT the door. So if we once again came home empty handed there would be no baby accessories scattered through the house. With Addison, her nursery was so full of gifts from a baby shower that you couldn't walk through it. The room was painted. We had a freaking car seat and stroller in our living room when we came home from the hospital without Addison. So with Emily I allowed nothing. People came over when we got home from the hospital and put together the swing, bassinet and all that. What you are feeling and doing is normal. You know there is no safe zone and you are just protecting yourself...as much as you can. One last thing....TOTALLY freaking jealous you are "retiring"! My dream would be to stay home with Emily! Congrats!

  2. Oh Nicole - I couldn't agree more with the comment above. You ARE normal - at least in the baby-loss world. It doesn't mean you aren't optimistic and hopeful about Adalee's arrival, but how could you not worry about things working out, about her arriving alive? When your only experience with childbirth didn't go that way, it's only to be expected that you'll have a hard time believing it won't be like that again. We've all been exposed to the sad reality where babies die, they don't make it, and they should have. So, you seem totally normal to me :)

    And I had similar things happen during my pregnancy with Finn (similar concerns and worries), but I also called him Cale a couple times. I hated it when I did, I felt bad, and even after he was born a few family members accidentally would say Cale instead of Finn. So it happens. But I tried to think of it like you - that people mix up names, and so if anything, it's nice to know that our Angels are always on our mind - so much so that we mix their names up, just like people do with their living children.

    Hang in there hun -you are rounding the corner, the end is in sight and I am so excited for you!!

  3. Caroline will always be Caroline, and Addie will always be Addie. Two separate but equally beloved little girls. You have a tremendous capacity to love, of that I have no doubt.

    Still praying.

  4. Oh Nicole I am so happy for this early retirement! You deserve every single second with Addalee.

    I don't think it is humanly possible to lose a baby and to have a "worry free" pregnancy the next time around. You are doing so great though and you give me hope.

    As far as the name switch goes, my whole life my sister and I have been called by each other's names at one point or another. I understand your guilt, but really I would be sad if you didn't switch up their names every now and again, because that's what happens with sisters :)

    Thinking of you and Caroline on the 9 month mark.

  5. I feel as though every word you speak could be my own... and I think all of the things you are thinking/feeling are totally normal. Don't feel bad about the switching of names either. I am having a "Jake" this time around and still sometimes unexpectedly refer to him as Ava :) I think it's just all part of the process. Thinking of and praying for you daily!!

  6. I love how you put everything so clearly and honestly. Reading your thoughts so often puts words to my own! I especially like how you say that Caroline has changed your life and that having her in your life AND having her leave has affected every part of you. I couldn't agree more. I wish the "outside" world would get that. Although it gets easier, it never ever goes away, and that can sometimes be very very hard to carry. Take care! I hope that all will go well in the coming weeks!!