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Harper

On Sunday afternoon, my brother-in-law, Billy, and sister-in-law, Abbey welcomed the beautiful Harper Alice Margaret into the world.

I have been trying to sort out for two days how to write about this. My heart just aches to write the truth, so the truth it will be. I will start by sharing an email I wrote to Abbey after Harper was born:

I have written the first line of this about 5 times. I don't know how to start. So I will just start.

When I read on Facebook that you might have the baby early a couple of weeks ago I felt very emotional. My chest tightened up and I felt tears well. I didn't want to think about why I was feeling that way, because I knew that dealing with those emotions would be hard and I didn't want to be sad, I didn't want to cry, and mostly, I just didn't want to deal.

When Hugh emailed me on Thursday to tell me you were headed to the hospital I felt all those same emotions, except this time I knew I couldn't delay them. This was really happening. I sat at my desk during my prep and cried. I didn't think about the "why's" of my tears. I just cried. I let myself have those tears, but I knew in that moment that I couldn't think about it any more than that or I wouldn't be able to last the day at school.

On Friday I was feeling really under the weather from my cold. I was also very emotional. I knew that I had to get healthy, but I also knew I had to begin to sort through all of the emotions I was having surrounding the birth of your child. I stayed home, slept, and did a bit of writing. I put some labels on a few of the emotions I had which was a start. I imagined how I would feel when I heard you had a healthy baby. I tried to do what I could to prepare.

Today I was asleep when Billy told Hugh about your beautiful baby girl, Harper. When I woke up at 3:30 pm I checked my texts. I read the one from Bill and I laid in bed and cried. I tried not to cry. I wanted to feel happiness. Because this is a happy day. Today is Harper's birth day. She is the most welcome addition to our wonderful family and I am so thrilled (and relieved) that she arrived on this earth safely. But I just couldn't stop crying. It is 7:26 pm and I am still crying. 

About an hour ago I came downstairs to write. It is the best way I know how to deal. I sat here and couldn't get started. Part of me seriously wanted to continue crying. So, instead of writing I pulled out my blog book from January - June 2011. I flipped to May. I knew that was the best place to start. May was when Kerri's son Drew was born. I thought that if maybe I went back there for a while I would begin to understand where this flood of tears was coming from. Here's what I came up with:

My tears come from grief. Harper's arrival reminds me of Tripp. When I think of your day, I can't help but think of February 18. I can't help to go back to the scariest and saddest 5 days of my life.

My tears come from envy. I wanted Tripp to arrive safe and sound. I am envious that I didn't get to experience what you are experiencing with Harper.

My tears come from fear. I now have 4 months to live until the birth of my baby. My baby probably won't be healthy. It will probably have to stay in NICU for a while. My biggest fear is that we will leave that hospital without them. I am scared.

When I read the post I wrote about Drew's arrival and all the subsequent posts about Kerri, Drew, and I a number of things stood out, but there were two in particular. The first was that Drew's birth was hard and although this is 1.5 years later, and I tried to tell myself I would be okay with your baby's birth I'm not. In this moment I am not doing okay. And as much as I desperately hoped and wished it would be different, in many ways it isn't. But after doing that reading I know that IT IS going to be okay and I am going to be okay. The fact that it is 1.5 years later makes me hopeful that I am more equipped to deal with Harper's birth than I was to deal with Drew's. 

The other thing that stood out to me was that I needed to write this email and I needed to send it. Going back to 2011 reminded me of some of the things I learned from Tripp. He taught me that connections with people are the most important things I have. My connection with you and your family means so much to me and if I am not honest with myself or with you, I am not being true to our relationship, to our connection. When I came down here to write I wasn't going to send this. I didn't want any of my sadness to influx your happiness, but on the day Drew was born Chris (Kerri's husband) wrote me a text that said, "Jordan, you can say whatever you need to say. You can't hurt our feelings over how you are feeling. Whatever you need to say, you can say it. However you're feeling you can feel. We love you guys." 

That being said, I am scared to press send. I in NO way want to do anything to hurt your feelings. I guess I just want you do understand why I can't come and see you at the hospital. I just can't walk back to the maternity floor. It is going to be hard enough in March when I have no choice. I guess I am just delaying those emotions as well. I also want you to know that when we come to your house, I am probably going to cry. And it very well might be the ugly kind. I just want you to know although those tears will come from grief, envy, and fear, they will also be tears of happiness.

I just went back to the post I wrote about you, Delayne, and Kerri

"I talked to Abbey first.  I could barely even say the words, "it's hard to be around Pace."  Abbey teared up and said, "it's o.k.  We knew.  We totally understand."  She went on to say there are times when she finds it hard to be around Pace because he reminds her of Tripp.  She also said she found it hard to even bring him to our house, because she knew how hard it must be for us.  I was so focused on myself and my own grief that I hadn't realized how much Abbey was grieving and the extent to which that grief went.  Not only is she a mom, she is Tripp's aunt. "

We made it through that. I am hopeful with some love and patience this will be no different.

With that I am going to press send. 

Love Jordan

Abbey immediately wrote me back an emailed filled with compassion, tears, and love. She let me know that she was there for me - in whatever ways necessary. How lucky am I?

I spent the rest of Sunday night extremely emotional and when Hugh and I headed to bed around 9 pm, I started crying and couldn't stop. Poor Hugh, he tried to console me, but there was nothing he could do.

As I laid in bed crying, I tried to figure what the heck was happening. Emotionally, I felt like I did in those early months after Tripp died. The pain was so unbearable that I actually wished I could rip myself out of my body and run away. I imagined running away to the most beautiful pasture. It felt like if I could just get there, things would be alright. It hurt so bad I wanted drugs. I wanted the sleeping pills I took the week after Tripp died to kill my thoughts. I wanted to crawl into the corner of my room behind the closet door and scream. 

I kept wondering, "How did I survive feeling like this all the time?"

It was around 10 pm when I my slipped back to thinking about Harper and my pregnancy that I realized that my tears in that moment were not about them at all. In fact, thinking about them seemed like a distraction. My emotions weren't envy, or fear, they were simply grief. I was completely missing Tripp. My soul wanted, in every way imaginable, to scream out for him. I wanted him. And it wasn't fair that I didn't have him.

At that point I knew there was little I could do for how I was feeling. There is no logic in a moment of extreme grief. I cried for another hour before my body shut itself down. 

I haven't felt that horrible in a really long time. So long, I can't even put a finger on when. When I woke Monday morning, feeling a semblance of sanity, I knew that I didn't want to ever feel like that again. But I also knew that I will. Grief never goes away.

That evening of extreme grief hasn't taken away my envy or fear, but it has done a good job of reminding me where those emotions come from from. 

More on Harper when I get to meet her. 

Comments

  1. I think it is understandable the way you feel. Even though the birth of your rainbow child in a few months won't take away these feelings and the ache for Tripp, I hope it will make relationships and moments like this a bit easier for you Jordan...I know you want to just 'be happy' for Abbey and Billy and it would be great if life were so simple, but after the death of a child emotions can never be just simple again:( I am sure they understand that.

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  2. You don't have to explain or justify your feelings to anyone, Jordan. You survived the most terrible thing that can happen to a mother. That's not something you "get over" in 1.5 years or even 1.5 lifetimes. And grief never follows anyone's schedule but it's own. Add a new baby in the family to the situation, and your own body's memories of your last pregnancy - well, it's amazing that you aren't swallowed up by the aching you must feel for Tripp. Your friends get it. Cry as much as you need to and whenever you need to. Tripp was loved. You are loved. Take care.

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  3. Kelly, I really connected to what you said about life never being simple again. How true.

    Dianne, I definitely felt I was being swallowed up on Sunday. That is such a good descriptor for how I was feeling.

    Thank-you both so much for leaving these comments. I feel supported by just reading your words.

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