"You get what you pay for, but I just had no intention of living this way." -Counting Crows

Why We're Here...

My husband David and I delivered a stillborn Baby Boy that we loved, and wanted. Our first and only son, Logan, had Down Syndrome. Our daughter's smile is a little light in the darkness. She turned one year old three days after our sweet Logan tip-toed away on January 24, 2009. After 2 1/2 years we found out we were having another baby, whom we affectionatly called Rudy. Just shy of 6 weeks we found out Rudy was Ectopic. Rudy was surgically removed on May 26, 2011 delivering another blow to our already broken hearts.

My marriage

Brittany contacted me on Facebook and asked me how the tragedy of Logan’s death affected my marriage. This is what I came up with.

Prior to Logan's death my husband and I had a solid relationship of about 13 years or so. We also had a daughter a year prior to Logan's death, which I think changes things considerably. With out those two things in play, I can not say how our marriage would have fared. My husband has ventured so far as to say that had Logan been our first baby, he doesn't think I would still be around. Though I played with the idea of escaping, and though yes, having a baby living at home to help me "snap out of it" and focus on my responsibilities to raising her kept me intact at home, I think I yearned for the companionship of someone who knew what the heartbreak felt like. I doubt that I would have wandered far, or for very long since the safest most comforting place I found was in my husbands arms. They say “Misery loves company”, and David knew my brand of misery, and we could wallow in it together, and often did in those early days. But now, a year and a half later, I look back and I think that the biggest changes for my marriage were two things. First and foremost I became terrified of loosing my husband (and daughter) either through him leaving me or their death. Know one ever said that “this” would leave one feeling rational and sane. But I was terrified (and I still struggle with this) that God was gonna swoop down and take them too! Or Karma, or the Devil or just plain old fate! But that they were going to be snatched from me, and that in turn I would die of sheer misery and broken heartedness. On my more sane days I tended to cling to change number two. That change being that if my marriage could survive something so gut wrenchingly terrible and come out on the other side still in love with each other, still able to cling to each other, still able to look to the other for comfort…well then, we could survive absolutely anything. I remember a nurse saying something to me when I was in labor with Logan (whom I already knew was dead) to the gist of, “This is the worse thing that could ever happen to you, and you’ve already done it!” And I remember thinking at the time it was an odd thing for her to have said, but I so agreed with her. Because after all nothing could ever be worse than this, right? Well 18 months of time between the horror and now have taught me that no, in fact it is not the worse thing that could ever happen. Far worse things could have happened, and could still happen. But at the time I needed to hear that, and I held on to that with every ounce of energy I had in me. And somewhere along the line it became my mantra for my marriage. Nothing can happen in this marriage now that we can not survive, together. Because nothing, not even infidelity, will destroy me the way that my son’s death did, and if that didn’t destroy my marriage…well then nothing can.

However, communication is the key, in my unprofessional opinion anyhow. David and I don’t “talk” much. David’s not much of a “sit and share” kind of guy, and I tend to monopolize conversations. However, very soon after Logan died I started blogging, and I told David that if he wanted to know how I was feeling he should read my blogs. And if you’ve ready my early posts you’d know that I didn’t hold anything back, and I was about as bare as I could get. We never talked about my blog posts, but he knew where I was, that I wasn’t crazy, that others felt the same way…and that perhaps the way he was feeling might be like I was and that he wasn’t crazy either. Every now and again I’ll ask “How are you DOING?” Not really code or anything, but he knows what I mean. And he also tries to own up to his feelings as much as he can at the time. Most of the time I just accept it for what it is and know that however I am feeling, he is feeling whatever it is he is feeling. And early on I knew that I wasn’t okay and he wasn’t okay and that was okay too. Eventually we’d be okay, or we’d get help. I think we’re okay these days, for the most part. We grieved differently and tried to accept each others differences. In the end I think we’re surviving, since I think it’s a daily process, and though we’ve come out on the other side changed and with many a scars, we’re still mostly okay. We’re trying to find our new normal. We’re trying to live with the shadow that is Logan, trying to carry on life not as though he didn’t exist but as though his existence was something special meant for only the two of us to have enjoyed, even if for such a short time.

I guess in all reality I don’t really know how Logan’s death affected my marriage. I also don’t know how it affected me as a parent. Do I treat my daughter differently because I lost a son and maybe I value her life just a little more than I would have? Is the crazed fear for her life because I lost a child, or is every parent crazed out of their mind with fear when it comes to thier kids? Maybe I’m a little more tolerant to my husband’s flaws than I was before. Maybe I think he’s an extra special dad because I witnessed what he went through, and how he stood up, knocked the dirt off and picked up his daughter when I know he would have rather curled up in a ball and died. Maybe seeing my husband hold his dead son in his arms with tears streaming down his face, and not an ounce of shame for those tears, offered me a deeper connection with him. Because no matter what else goes down in our lives, and no matter who else comes and goes, we will always have that day that only the two of us will know on the level that we know it. Because no one else will hear that someone’s baby weighed 1lb 7oz, or hear the name Logan, or see a blond haired blue eyed boy, or see a child with Downs and look at me with eyes that will reflect the tremendous pain and knowledge that his will hold. Maybe he’s my war buddy. We witnessed it together, we trudged through it together, we survived it together and we came out on the other side…together. Knowing that makes everything else seem so insignificant in its light. Together we created life, and if went perfect. Then we created life and it all went wrong. We saw both ends of the spectrum together. We have our own sadistic horrible jokes that no one else would ever get. We have our shared sorrow, our shared delight. We have a life that we have built together that, though at times has been south of Hell, its our common ground, its what kept us together when grief and depression tried to rip us apart. Knowing now that not even the worse possible thing that could have happened could tear us apart, what is there left for us to conquer? If our marriage goes south at this point, well then, I guess it will be because we quit trying to survive the little things.

And I hope I never quit trying to survive.


Amanda said...

i needed this today. thank you.

Catherine W said...

This is a wonderful post Heather. I particularly love your description of that look of recognition, that only you and your husband can share.

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing this, Heather. My DH has also said he wonders if Id be around if it weren't for our son...
I wish he didn't.

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