Thursday, April 7, 2011

Forever Changed

Every time I try to write something, it comes out all wrong. Every time I try to say something, it comes out all wrong. It seems the only thing I can do is text, and even then it comes out awkward, just ask my sister. Sheesh...

I guess my issue is that I have built up a wall around my heart, and although I honestly am the same loving, giving person I was before my daughter died, I have changed.

I can tell by the way I like to be alone now. I mostly prefer it. I'd rather sit on my couch with a good book than have a good friend sitting next to me. I'd rather drive aimlessly, alone, singing music on mixed cds from the most amazing friend, then listen to those same songs with that most amazing friend. I clean my house, all day long, then don't have people over to see how beautiful it is. It's like, my little fortress and I don't want anyone in it.

That's why yesterday was a big deal. Yesterday, my husband turned 29. I have always been big on making people feel like number ONE on their birthday. Like, last year for Chris' birthday I threw him this HUGE surprise party at our friend Staci's house, with tons of people from work. My husband doesn't like surprises, and is actually quite shy (how we ended up together is God's own miracle) so, to my dismay, when everyone yelled "SURPRISE!" as he walked out onto the deck, my husband (who was, at that time, only my boyfriend) just stood there and said "Hi." Bless his heart.

So, this year I was determined to not be let down, so, I planned a quiet dinner with us, his parents and grandpa Shuey. I wanted our friends Jim & Jolene to meet us at dinner along with their daughters, but that didn't work out. I wanted to just have dinner, then come home with my boys and play Lego Creationary or something... I wanted anything other than people in my house. BUT, I also didn't want it to be about ME because it was Chris' day. So, I invited Jim & Jolene over to the house after for cake and ice cream. I was so excited all day long to be able to see them because I honestly want to be around them so so much, and to hang out with our family and them. Towards 5 o'clock anxiety set in because I knew I wouldn't be alone that evening. My house was immaculate (well, as immaculate as it could be with a 7 year old... but honestly, it was probably eat-off-the-floor worthy) because I had been cleaning all day, every day this week. I got my love for cleaning from my mom. I never thought it would be a coping mechanism for handling my heartache.

When everyone was in the house, it was like I was myself again... perfectly content with having tons of people around me. I loved talking to Jolene & Cheryl about crafts and scents and girly things. I loved hearing Chris talk to Jim about random dude stuff, and I loved loved loved hearing Sebastion playing with Lydia in his room, beating up the 'bad guys' from their Lego castle. I loved not being alone. For the first time since Caris died.

Please don't be confused, I have done many activities with many people, gone many places, had many people over, and I loved it, because in that moment that was what I needed. What I am trying to say, and poorly I might add (I prefaced this entire blog with how I can't say anything write... now you can see what I mean) is that when I think back on the person I was before Caris... from my birth to my teens to my early twenties to before I found out I was pregnant with her... I was a totally different person.

I changed the moment I found out I was having a baby. I changed again when I felt my baby kick for the first time. I changed again when I found out we were having a girl. I changed again when we decided what her name would be, Caris meaning 'Grace' and AnnaBelle meaning 'Love' because just the sheer thought of having a baby girl with that name made me strive to be a woman, full of grace and love myself. I changed again when I felt that first contraction. When I thought for the very first time "this is it- I am about to meet my baby girl!" I changed again when they told me I needed to start pushing. Or, rather, when I told them I needed to start pushing after they'd told me several times I needed to wait. My body knew it was time. I changed again when I heard my mom, Kathy, Cheryl and Chris gasp after that last push because I knew my baby girl was born. I changed again when Chris and I were gripping each others hands so tight waiting to hear her cry. I can remember my nails digging into his palm. I changed again when we heard it. I changed again when they whisked her away to the NICU, for reasons unknown to me at that time. Chris went with the doctors, he wanted to be with his daughter.

I laid in the bed, so euphoric, knowing my baby girl was finally here. I chatted with Kathy, Cheryl and my mom. We cried a bunch cause she was finally here. We waited. 2 hours went by and finally Chris came back into the room to tell us why she was in there. I was forever changed when I found out she was on a ventilator to breathe. I changed again when at 2am in the morning the nurse came in and said she was being rushed to CHKD because of a hole they'd found in her heart and they told us she needed to have immediate surgery. I changed again when after nothing short of a miracle, my baby girl arrived at CHKD and no hole was found. My mom and Freddy tell the story that they believe there was a hole, yet God healed her on the way to CHKD due to the hundreds (and i mean, hundreds.) of people who were praying for her. Not even a day old, and she was already surrounded by so many people.

I changed again throughout her week at CHKD. I feel like I grew up a lot. Looking at my daughter laying there, so peacefully, probably dreaming about owls and reeses and chicfila sweet tea. We were surrounded by people the entire week. I wanted to be surrounded by people. I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by people. I wanted everyone to meet her. To see this beautiful baby girl that Chris and I had made together. A perfect picture of our love, joined together, half of him and half of me. A miracle from God himself. I am so grateful for the people who were able to meet her.

I was changed again when my mom and I drove up to UVA. I can't say I didn't expect bad news, but I can say my expectation for a miracle outweighed any expectation of bad news. I changed again when I was able to sit at my daughters bedside, caressing her head, holding her hand, singing to her. I wonder if she ever heard me. She looked at me once, at CHKD, on her 2nd day of life... but I wonder if she ever actually heard Chris or I talking to her in her short life.

I was forever. changed. when I knew my daughter had taken her last breath. When I saw the look on her doctor's faces right before they told me... that changed my life, forever.

When we buried our daughter, I think I had stopped changing. I think my emotional pain tolerance had built that wall up so high that change was impossible. I couldn't do anything different than what I had been doing. There was nothing I could do.

Chris and I spent much of the next week watching redbox movies in bed, sleeping, crying, talking, crying, sleeping. We spent a lot of time together, with no one else, and in that time I fell more in love with him than I could have every predicted.

That's why, for his 29th birthday, I knew that I had to change, again- I had to actually make myself get out of my comfort zone and push down this wall a little bit, and let our beautiful home that he provides for me and Sebastion, be seen, and filled, with people who genuinely love us.

I don't know if any of this makes much sense... I'm not going to reread or edit it. at all. I just know that my life was forever changed by our daughter, our sweet Caris AnnaBelle.

I want to make her proud of me. Chris says that all the time "She made us proud, so now it's our turn. She wouldn't want us to be sad or grumpy or miserable all the time. We can have our moments of weakness but we need to use those to glorify Caris, not wallow in our own self-pity." My husband says some pretty profound things sometimes.

Like I said, God's own miracle, putting us together. Chris and I were forever changed by our daughter. I just need to remember that we're still here, and we still need to make her proud. And I'd like to believe she'd be proud of me for knocking down this wall around my heart and be the loving and giving person I always was, just in a different way. Just because I was forever changed doesn't mean my love for people goes away... and so, I'm heading out to spend time with 5 of my favorite little people and my sister. And I'm hoping that as time progresses, and as we continue to heal, the Maggie my daughter helped create me to be will be full of grace, and full of love. Just as she would want.


  1. thank you thank you thank you for sharing yourself. thank you, you're writing is beautiful just like you.

    Caris is everywhere. I even bought my husband's birthday card because it reminded me of her. On the front it has a blue daddy owl and sitting on top of his head is a pink owl. It says "happy birthday daddy, from your daughter"

    and on the inside it says " like father, like daughter""I sure hope that's true, for what could be better than being like you!"

    I love how I am reminded of her almost every day!

  2. oh my gosh, maggie... oh my gosh... oh i so relate to you... this was beautiful... this blog was beautiful...

    i remember the night Carter died... sitting on my living floor, with three precious friends beside me... i said... "this changes me"... so i totally know what you mean...

    i love you ♥

  3. I love that you share your journey with us. Thank you. I love you, sweet sweet Maggie. I am sure Caris would be proud of you and I am quite sure she heard her Momma singing to her. She could feel your love, Maggie. I know it because I can feel it through your words, so how much stronger must it have been in the rooms at the hospitals. <3