Monday, September 19, 2011

Music tHERapy

When I was a freshman in high school my older sister, Brett, started studying Music Therapy at FSU.  One weekend Mom and I went to visit her, and she took me with her to the recital of a Senior music student's.  I had been struggling with a bout of Tourette's Syndrome at that time.  Tourette's is a neurological disorder that, for me, causes me to have facial twitches whenever I'm stressed or anxious. Around that time I was still struggling with my parent's divorce, hated high school so far, and missed all my siblings (especially Brett) who had left me alone in the house(es) for various reasons. I was twitching so badly that Brett had to help me walk-- I couldn't even see in front of me.

On the way to the recital Brett tried to explain to me what music therapy even was.  Call me slow, but I just didn't understand what she was doing.  At the recital, though, the Senior student sang a beautiful song to the accompaniment of another student's piano playing, and I was completely entranced.  I shifted closer in my seat, and couldn't even blink. Without realizing it, my twitches had completely vanished while I listened.  My whole body calmed down. Brett leaned over to me and said, "That's music therapy."

Music has been really important to me since then.  I can't listen to any song without thinking about the lyrics and if or how they could apply to me.  I've always loved that lyrics and, in the best cases, the accompaniment, too, express something I never could.  Feelings I have but can't explain, things I want or need to hear but don't know how to ask for, etc.

In coping with the loss of my baby three songs have really helped me, for various reasons:

1. In My Life, Dave Matthews

This song reminded me of our daughter long before she was born for the line, "In my life I love you more." But it also seemed really sad to me, so I hesitated putting it on her Baby CD.  When we learned that she had passed and we would have a burial for her I knew this song was perfect.  I suppose it was an early revelation.  Now I love it for the line, "I'll never lose affection...."

2. You'll Be In My Heart: Phil Collins

This song has meant a lot to me since Middle School.  I was being teased by some classmates, and knelt in prayer for comfort.  As soon as my prayer ended, this song came on the Light radio station.  I felt like it was Heavenly Father's way of answering my prayer and telling me how much He loved me.  The song still means a lot to me, and now I think of it as my anthem to Eleanor, as well. I love you, Little Girl! And Heavenly Father loves us both very much :)

"When destiny calls you, you must be strong. I may not be with you, but you've got to hold on." 

3. Be Here Now by Mason Jennings.

This has been the ultimate in healing music for me.  This song is in my top 10 favorite songs of all time-- which is really saying a lot! We added it to a CD we made when we were getting sealed of love songs.  I have felt so much love for Ben through all of this, and focusing on our relationship and our blessings has really helped me cope. I am so grateful to still have him in my life! I listened to our marriage CD a few days ago, and heard this one for the first time in a little while.  I played it repeatedly for about 45 mins.

I always have had a hard time "Being here now." I seem to always look to the future, but this experience is really helping me see that we have to appreciate every tiny blessing in every ordinary day.  I am so in love with my husband, so grateful for the Gospel, so proud of my daughter, and truly happy to be who and where I am.

"Be here now. No other place to be. Don't just sit there dreaming of how life would be if we were somewhere better, somewhere far, away from all our worries, well here we are...

Be here now.  No other place to be. All the doubts that linger, just set them free.  And let good things happen. Let the future come. Into each moment like a rising sun.

Sun comes up and we start again..." 

Thank you, Mason Jennings, for helping me realize that life moves on.  Just because I accept that and try to move on doesn't mean that the love I have for our daughter ever has to change.  I can do both-- love her and be sad, and look forward to tomorrow with complete hope and acceptance that some things I have no affect over, but I still make the choice to be happy :)

And, honestly, I'm feeling better.  

Friday, September 16, 2011


It has been exactly 1 week since we left for my routine midwife appointment last Friday.  I'm happy to report that we've survived! It's amazing to think of how much adversity we can actually handle-- I've been through my share in my short lifetime, and I always wonder how I am still able to breathe.  Thank you, atonement.  And a little friend I've recognized as DENIAL.

I thought I'd been handling our situation really well.  I have a healthy eternal perspective and logical knowledge of what happened, which helps, but a couple of days ago I realized it may be because I'm not letting myself truly feel our loss.  I've been thinking about this as if it happened to someone I'm really close to, or a character in a book I've grown to love and miss by the end, or a movie I've seen over and over again. It involves people and a situation I know very well and deeply care about, but not me.  I feel upset and distraught, but not in a personal way.  Then, randomly, we will receive a very thoughtful sympathy card, someone from church will stop by with flowers or dinner, or my mother calls at 10:00 pm "Just to see if I'm ok."  

Why are we getting a sympathy card? Or a random call from my mom at night? Or flowers from people we've never met? There must be a reason.... And it sets in.  There is a reason.  That tragedy from last week.... ours.

And I'm "in it" all over again.  I try to logic or spiritualize myself out of the sadness, but it still comes.  I start to notice all the physical signs around me; things I'd somehow stayed oblivious to during the day.  My breastmilk came in, which causes me a lot of discomfort.  I feel crampy.  Tape residue from my IV refuses to come off my arm.  My other arm still has a large bruise from the blood pressure cuff I kept on for 2 days.  It's not bad enough that I couldn't take my daughter home from the hospital, I have to see tape marks a week later?!?!?!

I went to visit Eleanor's gravesite on Wednesday and could see the ground raised and placed back down on top of her.  Even knowing that she wasn't really there, I had a strong natural reaction to rip the ground away and bring her back up.  I just cried and prayed instead. (Though I did touch the grass chunks just to make sure they were fresh.)

Nights are the worst; all day I find things to distract me, but at night there is no sunlight to walk our park path by, our friends and family aren't available to call, and I don't want to drive anywhere.  I know it's only a matter of time before we go to bed and the only thing left to do then will be to think and wait to fall asleep.  I hate being alone with my thoughts!

Luckily this back-and-forth of denial and reality (which really does bite) only happens a few times a day.  Most of the day I'm still able to look to our many reasons to feel blessed and convince myself to be okay.  I know I'll need to face this reality hard and fast at some point, but for now I'll take it little by little.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roller Coaster....

On Saturday our daughter, Eleanor Seoul, was born.  After a routine check-up on Friday morning we found out that she had stopped growing at 21 weeks, and would need to be delivered and buried. Friday was the hardest day we have both ever experienced, but by Saturday we had a strong testimony that we were helping Eleanor fulfill the Plan of Salvation.  We felt a confirmation that she was sent to us for a body, and, as soon as she developed her major organs and was old enough to be classified as a baby by medical and church standards, she knew she didn't need to progress any further.

Luckily her delivery was very easy and painless.

We have ridden on the wings of our testimonies these last few days.  We are so surprised at this news, disappointed that our plans for her are on hold, and struck with the reality of changing our routines and expectations, but are also faced with countless details pointing to the one and only explanation: This was Heavenly Father's plan for our daughter, and we are grateful to have been a part of something so specific.

That knowledge has brought us comfort.  I'm surprised that I can even get out of bed in the morning, but I'm happy to report I'm doing much better than that.  Unfortunately, though, no amount of logic or spirituality can comfort my empty arms. I spend most of my day at 50%-- halfway  between feeling grateful and understanding, and completely losing it.  Usually I can keep it just barely above the sadness line and in to the understanding portion, but the moments of depression still come at unexpected times.

I expect that to last for a while.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ben's Home!

Two weeks ago Ben had arthroscopic shoulder surgery to re-attach the badly torn ligament (the labrum) he had torn when his shoulder dislocated a few years ago.  His shoulder continues to get re-injured, so a Dr. suggested surgery to permanently fix the tear, and we decided that surgery should happen as soon as possible, so he can be fully healed when the baby is born.

Because of a strict pain meds, cold pack, and eating schedule, plus the limitation of being in extreme pain when his right arm/ shoulder move at all, Ben has been working from home since the surgery. 

I was a little nervous about that, at first... I work from home, he's working from home, and it's a small home. Except for vacations and weekends, we have never spent so much time around each other before!

I have to say, though, it is fantastic.  After a year and a half of marriage and all we've been through together, we get along so well! We are truly best friends, and have had so much fun sitting on our own ends of the couch, occasionally talking and taking breaks together, but mostly just sharing space and feeling the love in the room. 

I love you, Ben! 

some f.u.n.n.y. stuff from this week:

I spent an entire day cleaning the entire house, Ben washes his hands in the downstairs bathroom...
Suz: "Notice how nice and clean the bathroom is."
Ben: "Wow! I didn't know the bathroom could look this good!"
Suz: "Well, that sort of insults every other time I've cleaned the bathroom."
Ben: "Wow! I forgot the bathroom could get this clean!"
{Later that day we were both in the upstairs bathroom}
Ben: "Wow! This bathroom is so clean!"


We were sitting on the couch both on our computers.... 
Thing 1: "CNN is reporting that 3 people were killed and 6 injured during a shooting at an iHop in Nevada."
Thing 2: "I shot a man in prison just to watch him die."
Thing 1: "Is that what you tell your friends at Folsom?"
Thing 2: "What? I don't actually know where that line came from...." 
Thing 1: "It's a famous song by Johnny Cash on his album Live From Folsom Prison." 
Thing 2: "Oh, I thought it was from Wings." 
Thing 1: "LOL... Can I put that on the blog?"
Thing 2 : "No! I want people to think I know Johnny Cash."
Thing 1: "What if I don't give our names?"
Thing 2: "Well, ok.  Because people will assume it was you." 

After two weeks, Ben's pain has gone down, he is taking Ibuprofen instead of hard meds, and he's comfortable driving an automatic, so he's back at work :(

I miss you, Honey!