Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hidden Treasures, Part I

By Jenni Dolezilek Sternberg

Note: I always want to start by saying I don’t mean to offend anyone- I write what is true for me, based on my life and experiences.

My life took an unexpected turn the beginning of 2005. My husband, Paul, and I had been married less than two months and I found out we were expecting. I have learned not to say we were having a baby, since there is no guarantee. At that time, it never crossed my mind. It was surprising, exciting, and scary. We hadn't anticipated it- and I tried to comprehend what would happen. I wrote in my journal: Our lives will never be the same. I had no idea how profound that statement would be, nor how not just our lives would change, but how we would change as individuals.

The pregnancy continued pretty uneventful. I was due the middle of October. Toward the end of July, I asked if we could have another ultrasound- I had loved seeing the baby. Without going into all the details in this article, the ultrasound did not go well. And as I had  more doctor visits, the news continued to get worse. By September 1, after a second MRI, it was confirmed the baby had no kidneys or bladder (Potter’s Syndrome) and would possibly be born still or best case scenario live a few hours.

Our beautiful son, Cameron, was born on September 19. He lived 57 minutes. We were so grateful for the time to hug and kiss him, take pictures, and try to squeeze a lifetime of loving into a few days.

We buried him four days later. When I left him at the cemetery a piece of me was left with him, never to be part of me again.

The one thing that really helped me get through was going to Grief Group once a month. But a few months into it, I would feel better for going, but also felt so much worse.

The part that really got into my craw was that everyone kept talking about how losing a child made them a better person. This thrust me deeper into depression. I did not feel like a better person- I felt worse.

I listened to women say how they had decided to change careers and wouldn't have if they hadn't lost their child. They talked how they were more loving, more patient, and on and on. They weren’t bragging, at least I don’t think they were. It made them feel better to see positive changes after the loss.

It felt like a twist of the mommy wars. As a loss mom, I was not as good as the other loss moms.

I was not a better person and even today I still feel like a broken person. I was mad at everything and everyone. And most of all I was mad at God. How could God allow my baby to die? We had so many people praying. I was jealous of people who had babies. Seeing a pregnant woman was excruciating for me. How come she got to have her baby and I couldn’t? I was even jealous of people who died.

I had less empathy for others. I would listen to others complain about things and think- are you serious? You are complaining about not being able to find out the sex, while I found out my baby would die. You are upset you can’t go on vacation when you want or some friend is mad at you and I would think you have no idea what a real problem is.

Even the slightest things frustrated me. A broken grocery bag would have me in tears. My husband could forget to buy something at the store and I’d see red.

I also experienced depression. For better or worse- my husband and I ran a daycare out of our house. If I didn't get out of bed, we would have been homeless and starving. So I had no choice, it was all I could do every morning to get up and push along through the day. I remember thousands of times thinking I just wanted to curl up and die. I would beg God to take me. I would grow even more depressed when He wouldn’t take me.

I also suffer from extreme anxiety. I have anxiety if I am in a room that does not have direct access outside. I HAVE to sit on an aisle. I recently had an anxiety attack at the dentist. And when I was pregnant with my two rainbow babies, the anxiety started and still rears its ugly head often. At night- are they still breathing? Will they be okay if I leave them? And on and on.

All of these issues still plague me, some are better than others. But, slowly after time had passed I realized there have been hidden treasures buried under the grief, I just had to dig a little...

- Look for Part II of this article, coming soon! -

~ ~ ~

Jenni Dolezilek Sternberg owns and operates an in-home daycare/preschool, which she has done for 10 years in Minnesota. Before that she was an Elementary School teacher and will hopefully be an author in the future. She has been married to her husband Paul since Fall of 2004. And she is most proud of being a mommy to 3 children: Cameron, Katarina (7), and Jakob (3). Cameron lived 57 minutes after he was born on September 19,2005. He was held in loving arms his whole life. We continue to hold him in our hearts and do things to make sure he is not forgotten. Find more on Cameron’s Facebook remembrance page, IROC (In Remembrance of Cameron).


Terry said...

Jenni: We chose this as one of the hymns at Andrew's funeral. It gives me comfort and perspective.


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