Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grief Sucks

This grief process is especially frustrating to me. I am an analytical person whose mind works in logical ways. 

Grief is not linear. You do not progress in a specific, traceable pattern. Instead it is a looping rollercoaster going upside down, inside out and even backwards! Worse yet, every one’s grief rollercoaster is individual to them. No other person can tell you what to expect, how far you’ve come, how much longer until you start to feel better. I wish there was an expert who could offer such feedback. Like how a medical doctor can offer insight into your physical healing:

“Gee Doc, what do you think, am I well enough to return to work?”

“Well judging from these X-rays, you aren’t quite healed enough. 
You should stay home another month.”

It’s not like you have a choice. If you don’t face the grief, it just piles up around you; waiting for you to acknowledge it or exploding when you least expect it. It’ll never go away. Like they say, you have to go through it. If only there were an emergency exit; some escape from these horrible feelings, from this hell-ish existence. I don’t know how much longer I can do this grief work. It’s so draining.

I’ve heard after the first year or two, many women tend to feel better. To a newly bereaved mom like me, 1 to 2 years seems like an eternity. And still no one can guarantee that I, personally will feel better then. It’s all subjective.

This sucks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A's Story - Part II

Continued from Part I.

E and I decided to induce that night. First, we had to walk home and get our hospital bag. The instinct was to dig my heels in; refuse to return to the hospital. I did not want to deliver my dead child. I did not want to face this reality. I did not want to think about it at all.

Though our eyes were red from crying, practicality set in and silently we threw last minute items into the hospital bag. I also began removing things we wouldn’t need: nursing bra, lanolin ointment, the stack of baby clothes and blanket. E speaks up, “Why don’t you leave the clothes in? You may want to dress the baby.” What a sweet, thoughtful man. He had such clarity in the midst of intense emotion and tragedy. His perceptiveness throughout our ordeal continues to impress me.

We drove back to the hospital. It was pouring now.

Together we agreed not to call any family members or friends. We would do this just the two of us.

After hours of hospital BS protocol like paperwork and blood draws, the induction finally began. We labored through the night and A was born late the following morning. I remember finally opening my eyes after the last push. The nurse was crying, the midwife was crying, the tears were streaming down E’s face.

A was absolutely perfect! I was so awed by the beautiful baby placed on my stomach that it was a full minute or two before I even thought to check if he was a boy or a girl. He looked very peaceful. I found myself anticipating him yawning, stretching an arm as if he was simply sleeping. Kept waiting for him to awake.

After some time of fawning over our son, we decided to call our parents. A is the first grandchild for 3 of the 4 parents. They each dropped what they were doing and raced to the hospital.

We had a wonderful day together as a family checking out every feature and detail of his flawless body, holding him, kissing him, talking to him, singing to him, taking photos, pressing his footprints. A truly memorable day.

We asked our folks to leave so that we could have an hour or so together, just the three of us. When the time came to go home, I placed him in the bassinet, wrapped in his blanket we had brought. I kissed his soft, cold cheek and we walked out of the room, closing the door behind us. I lost it right then and there. I couldn’t leave him!

E calmly said, “Let’s go back in.” We go back into the room and simultaneously, each kiss one of his cheeks. We again walk out and close the door. The cleaning lady is working in the room next door. “Is there somebody in there?” she asks. “There is.” replies E. “I won’t go in if someone’s in there.” she responds.

I bawl the entire walk down the hallway. Propped in the corner of the elevator I am sobbing. Crying like a banshee E escorts me toward the exit door. I cannot bear to leave my child. Deep down inside I know the second we walk through that door, I will never see my son again. As soon as we cross the door to outside, I collapse on the ground. E patiently sets down the gigantic hospital bag, picks me up, holds me, kisses my forehead and talks to me. Calmer, he hoists the bag to his shoulder again and we walk to the car for the short drive home.

The cord, placenta, membranes all looked normal. No immediate explanation for why he died. No warning signs that anything was amiss. We may never know for certain what happened.

What I do know for sure is that A will always be our firstborn. He will always be a part of our family, a part of our lives, a part of ourselves.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A's Story - Part I

For the sake of honesty, by virtue of anonymity (see my first post for explanation), let’s call my husband “E” because he truly is Extraordinary and my precious son, “A” because he’s downright Awesome. 

Exactly on A’s due date, E and I went in for the check up. Everything looked good. We heard the baby’s heartbeat, he passed the non-stress test with flying colors. No joke, those were the midwife’s words “with flying colors.” The only thing to worry about was remaining patient for labor to start naturally. The midwifery group allows women to go to 42-weeks if all is well and my backaches and desire to meet my baby were wearing on me.

Four days later, I commented to E that I hadn’t felt the baby kick as much as usual. I drank a glass of orange juice with sugar stirred in and laid on my side. After 15 minutes of no movement, I called the midwife. At this point, my biggest fear was that our preparations and plans for a natural birth would be dashed and I’d have to have an emergency C-section. 

The midwife said that I should have another snack, perhaps peanut butter, then lie from one side to the other. She’d call back in an hour. I followed her instructions and still nothing. She called back and said the only way to know what was going on for sure, was to put me on the monitor. We planned to meet at the hospital in 10 minutes. I said, “We live two blocks away, and were going to walk over. Should we bring the hospital bag?” She replied, “It doesn’t hurt to bring the bag. But in most cases it’s just the baby being obstinate.”

Optimistically, we left the hospital bag at home and walked over in the drizzle. Immediately the nurses were rushing around – a bit unnerving but I was not worried. I firmly believed that if anything were wrong that modern science and the medical team of this revered hospital would be able to help my full term, completely developed baby.

The nurse put the monitor on my belly and nothing. She tried different spots and meanwhile was frantically calling someone with her free hand. At this point I am still not crying, not panicking. E is holding my hand; we are silent, holding our breath waiting for the familiar thuh-thump.

The midwife arrives and she is holding my other hand. A young stone-faced doctor rolls an ultrasound machine in and places the probe on my belly. You can see the baby’s head, spine and ribs…but no movement. He doesn’t say a thing, just keeps intently searching; his eyes on the screen.

An older rotund doctor, the young fellow’s boss, arrives and takes over. The screen was so still. I couldn’t look at it anymore. I watched the midwife’s face instead and from her expression, I knew.

No beating heart. No blood flow.

E collapsed on my chest sobbing; his wet rain jacket brushing against my cheek. I screamed and bawled. “Can’t you do something? Please do something!”

There was nothing they could do; he was already gone.

[Part II coming tomorrow]

Welcome to Griefland

I recently found myself in Griefland. As with all inhabitants here, it was involuntary and unwelcome. My first child was born still, at term, after a healthy pregnancy. The devastation is unfathomable.

Since my begrudging arrival in Griefland, I’ve found writing helpful in coping with the hurricane of emotions swirling within me. My hope is that this blog will assist me in navigating the topography of Griefland. It is going to be a long, long road.

I have been comforted by reading other baby loss blogs. Perhaps some of my words will resonate with people, as so many other blogs have for me. If even one individual finds comfort here, that will be an extra gift. A nod to the fact that my son’s life was not in vain.

My reasoning to blog anonymously is twofold. First, if my name were attached to these posts, I would hesitate each time I sat down to write instead of allowing the words to flow. Even unconsciously, I would filter my thoughts.

Secondly, some of the emotions I’m feeling in Griefland are quite, well…ugly. I don’t want to offend any of my family or friends nor do I want them to worry unnecessarily about me. These are some of the most private and deep emotions.

For the benefit of my own healing and to be as honest as possible with those who read this blog, I am withholding my identity. I am happy to share personal details in private correspondence. Please feel free to email me.

Thank you for visiting.