Friday, November 11, 2011

A Different Kind Of Marathon

Last June I had just graduated from college and I was feeling what I imagine a lot of new college grads feel, "what now?" I needed something to work toward other than just getting a job.  All through school your working for so long with this one goal in mind and that becomes your purpose, without that purpose I felt lost. My first solution was grad school but that was expensive and I really did not have a reason to go so I scratched that idea fairly quickly. I finally decided that running a marathon would be a good idea. It would give me a goal to focus on and work towards in this in-between phase of my life.  I found the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon which would be run in November and it looked like the one for me. A full marathon seemed a little much to start out with so Marc and I decided we would both train over the next five months for the half marathon which is 13.1 miles.  We got new shoes and began our training with a lot of energy.

At the end of August, after hearing me talk about how much I wanted to start a family and have a baby for many months Marc came to me and said "let's do it, lets try for a baby!" I was beyond excited. I was just waiting for him to be ready! We decided to start trying the next month because my insurance was kicking in at Starbucks in October.  We also continued training for our marathon.  When race day came on November 14th, 2010 I was about 6 or 7 weeks pregnant with baby Marc. 

We were so happy and after months of training we were so ready to run our race. 

Marc ran ahead of me and finished in about 2.5 hours and I ran the whole thing stopping only once for one minute to check that my heart rate was not getting too high for pregnancy. I finished in 2 hours and 55 minutes, my goal was to finish in less than three hours. What a great feeling it is to finish something like that! We joked that one day I could tell baby Marc that he ran a marathon before he was born. 

The marathon was completed and over. I no longer felt that in-between feeling that I had felt after graduating. I was going to be a mommy!  Working at Starbucks we open so early that I can work a full day and be off by 11am so that Marc could watch him while I was at work and we would not have to worry about day care.  So what if I was having trouble finding a teaching job, I would just work at Starbucks 20 hours a week to keep insurance and be an almost stay at home mom for baby Marc's first year. I had my purpose now, it was to be the best mommy to Marcus as I could be!  I started my "how to be a mommy" marathon training. I read about birth, read books on baby sign language, articles on circumcision, I read what was in all of the vaccines that he would be getting and by month 6 I had finished all the pregnancy books and was well into the Baby's First Year book.  I invested about $800.00 in cloth diapers after spending literally weeks reading about which ones to use! I actually spent about 7 hours, no exaggeration, trying to decide which cloth wipes to buy. I painted a mural in his room, crocheted him several blankets and outfits for pictures and had so many clothes that I was convinced I would have to change his outfit twice a day so he would get a chance to fit into everything.

When July 5th came we were so happy and after months of training we were so ready to run our race.

Then suddenly and with no warning all our hopes and dreams for baby Marc and the things we were prepared to do died with him.  My purpose died.  In the weeks after baby Marc died I was desperately searching for something to focus on again. I think back to the way I felt after graduating, I had wondered what my purpose was but this new loss of purpose was so much greater than anything I could have imagined.  I thought that registering for the half marathon again would be helpful, exercising releases feel good endorphins and maybe if I had a goal to work toward it would help.  The weeks passed and for several weeks I did hit the gym pretty hard but somewhere along the way the grief sucked all my energy and I stopped training. 

I am going to say some things in this next paragraph that are irrational and I know it but they are feelings that I can't fight and sometimes they are just there. I struggle with so many things everyday, missing my son so much and the grief that goes along with that but also feelings of failure or that I don't do enough. Marcus was my purpose, I am supposed to be caring for him and protecting him right now. I am supposed to be so busy with him as my purpose that I don't have time for anything else. 

Without Marcus, without a baby to care for, I am left to care only for my grief. The grief sucks more energy out than I imagine a newborn could but still I feel bad for things like not being able to get a teaching job or not being able to keep the house clean enough.  I take everything that I can't do so personally as a failure on my part. I mean I have already failed to protect my baby, the ultimate failure! Then at the end of the month when I am not pregnant again I have failed. When the hospital bills come every month I feel guilty that I am not able to help Marc by contributing more to our family financially.  I feel guilty for the money I spent that probably should have gone to those bills but in those first months after baby Marc died getting out of the house to go to dinner or the mall with friends was a form of therapy. I guess there are worse things I could have resorted to other than just buying new things. Sometimes I feel like I am doing anything good enough, with no baby to take care of and no financial way to help what is my purpose.

Marc is amazing and he tells me all the time how proud he is of me and how strong I have been. He helps me to fight these feelings of failure. I can't imagine where I would be without him and he amazes me with his openness and unwavering support. With his help I have come to realize that I still have a purpose. I have purpose in our marriage and in the family that we will continue to build.  We are on a new path and baby Marc is still my purpose just not in the same way.

Mom's with newborns complain how they can't clean the house or exercise because they are so busy caring for their babies. I am sure they feel similar feelings of failure, not being able to be supermom and get everything done. 

I may not have my baby here to care for but I am working hard to care for this grief. The difference is grief offers no reward like caring for a baby.  It's just hard and dirty work.  Sometimes I just can't make myself get up and run or clean the entire house but maybe I can just run one mile, maybe I can just do the dishes. I am learning that I should be happy for the things I can do and stop beating myself up about the things I can't do.  

I will be running this marathon with my grief for the rest of my life. I can only hope that my endurance will build and one day it won't be so exhausting.

The literal marathon is on Sunday and I am not prepared like I was last year. I am not confident that I can do it successfully but I am going to try.  I may not be able to run the whole thing like I did last year. I may have to stop and catch my breath. I may have to walk or even crawl across the finish line but I have come to see that the real triumph is that at least I am out there trying.

"A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying."
B. F. Skinner 

“The "what should be" never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no "what should be," there is only what is.”
Lenny Bruce 
Crossing the finish line last year!

Marc & I with our medals

We can do anything together!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Poem From My Brother

This is a poem my little brother Tyler Fetter wrote for me. I love it, he is amazing!

A flower snipped before it's bloom,
Holds beauty just the same.
It's petals held within a shell,
For a spring which never came.

It's easy yet to feel such gloom,
But sorrows but his cost,
And though great it's yet a shallow price,
To pay for what was lost.

Could you undo the world?
To spite the pain it wrought?
Though I'd gladly live it all again,
I shudder at the thought.

And while it's true he'll never live
The sights he ought to see,
He shall not wilt as we will age
And in our hearts forever be.

-Tyler Fetter