Sunday, July 29, 2012

Worst Friend Ever

A couple months ago two of my good friends, an acquaintance and myself made plans for a girls’ night getaway replete with spa treatments, dinner out, cocktails and a hotel room. The four of us met at my buddy’s house to discuss details. It was the first time I had seen this acquaintance since A died. She had sent a thoughtful card, but we hadn’t spoken or anything. As I entered my friend’s house this acquaintance’s face immediately went somber when she saw me. We hug and before she can say a word, I ask about her life and new house. Then I quickly move on to greeting the others. I know she wants to bring up A and the whole ordeal. But I honestly don’t want to discuss it right then. We’re gathered to plan a fun outing, there are a handful of small children running around. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

We pick a date and finalize it all. I am the first to leave. Again I hug the acquaintance and this time she will not be silenced. She tells me how sorry she is and that this is the first time she’s seen me since. “I know. Thank you.” I respond. I well up and say how very difficult it is to be here without A. The other girls tear up too. A minute later I leave.

I do want people to acknowledge A’s life and death. I want them to recognize the hell I live each day now. But I don’t always want to get into a conversation about it. Am I trying to have it both ways? It’s so awkward to see people for the first time since A died months out. Just another reason to burrow inside the house.

Fast forward to this week. Girls’ night out is approaching. I have emailed my buddy twice in the past 6 days and she has not responded. This is very unlike her. Then I get an email from her that opens, “I NEED to talk to you.” I panic thinking something horrible has happened. I grab my phone and dial her. She is calm and casual on the phone. “Is everything alright?” I ask. “Oh yeah. I just really needed to hear your voice. I didn’t respond to your (Dragon) email not that I didn’t read it hundreds of times, I just don’t want to say the wrong thing.” Me, “I don’t know how to do this either.” (PS – I’m the bereaved Mom here; your needs take a back seat. Including your need to hear my voice. Sheesh!)

Our conversation continues on and we discuss the overnight outing. She offers, “If you just want to come for the spa and dinner but not stay the night, that would be okay. I mean you’re pregnant now. Plus I don’t want you to be uncomfortable or any of us to be uncomfortable.” Ahh yes. There it is.

I realize that my depression, grief and effed up reality is difficult to witness and even harder to be around. I am awkward in social situations now. I know how uncomfortable it is to be so close to me and my grief – I live it EVERYDAY! But it’s not like I can just take it off for the evening.

I know that I’m not fun to be around. I also know I’m the worst friend ever right now. My survival cocoon doesn’t allow me to see, hear or really care about what is happening in the lives of others. My instincts are selfishly devoted to buoying myself and there is no energy left over to have concern for others.

I cannot offer more at this time. You can either choose to accept me as I am and what I can(‘t) give or not. I don’t have the resources to put on a front for you or anyone else.

This is all especially disappointing because this particular friend has often cried with me and always remembers and mentions A. Now what? *sigh*

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cloudy with a Chance of Tears

The weather in Griefland lately has been mostly gray skies.  I don’t want to do anything. I prefer to curl up on the couch and bide my time until it’s time for bed. This is similar to the strategy I used in the early weeks after A died. Just get through this day.

Isolation is most appealing to me and I prefer to hide out in my house than spend time with anyone other than my husband. Poor guy, he tries to encourage me to at least come outside and enjoy the summer sunshine. But I just want to burrow inside.

And the crying. I am so weepy lately. Any little thing sets it off, but mostly it is the onslaught of thoughts and memories of A. For some reason, my brain keeps replaying the events surrounding A’s birth over and over and over again.

This weather pattern has been holding steady over Griefland for weeks now. What does it mean? Am I depressed? Is this normal grieving? Should I do something?

I attended support group a week or two ago for the first time in months. It wasn’t very helpful to me because there was a couple present who had just experienced a first trimester loss days earlier. All of the focus was on them – rightfully so. But I left feeling unfulfilled and a little disappointed that group wasn’t the magic pill to alleviate my symptoms.

I’ve also started back up regular individual counseling sessions. We’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, I try not to judge my actions. I try to do what’s best for me, but is hibernating in mid-summer really best?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

So Wrong

My friend and fellow baby lost mother experienced her fourth consecutive loss this week. Her gorgeous daughter, Anja, was stillborn January 2012. Prior to conceiving Anja, she suffered two back-to-back miscarriages.

Just weeks ago she discovered she was pregnant again; the fifth time (she is blessed with a precocious 3-year-old).  And then, again, the symptoms started and she miscarried.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in a God or gods. But I do plead with the universe on occasion. This is most certainly one of those occasions. I am so sad, so mournful, so very angry that this family has lost their 4th baby in a row. It’s so wrong that one woman and one family could suffer such loss.

So I have been praying. Praying that they survive. Praying that they heal. Praying because I want so badly to be able to do something and I am powerless.

It’s just so effing wrong.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Dragon Within

If the internet is correct (and isn't it always?), then we're in the year of the dragon according to the Chinese zodiac. Which means that our second child, due at the end of January, will be a dragon. Yup, we're 12-weeks right now. Heard Dragon's heartbeat at the first OB checkup and saw 'em kicking around on an early 10-week ultrasound. But it's still surreal and hard to believe there's actually a baby in there.

Maybe a baby dragon image is more appropriate.

Oddly, I'm not worried about Dragon. Maybe it's because I've been so distracted by the misery of 24/7 morning sickness or perhaps it's pure denial. Honestly, I think my anxiety will ramp up later on when I can('t) feel Dragon moving. I anticipate the third trimester to be the scariest given that we lost A shortly after the 40-week mark.

In the meantime, we haven't told anyone in our real lives yet. I'd really like to not tell anyone and keep this pregnancy a secret until January when we have (hopefully) a squirmy, living baby in our arms. This isn't realistic. But that would be ideal. E suggested we wait until 16 or even 20-weeks, but with all the crackers and bread I've been eating to combat the nausea, my belly is pouching out already. I guess the more realistic thought is to wait until after our 13-week appointment to tell family and friends and I'll likely inform work the following week.

The truth is, I don't want to talk to anyone about it. I don't want to hear their reactions - even the positive ones. I don't want to answer questions about how I'm doing, how E feels, etc. Worst of all, I don't want our family and friends to think we're "better" now, that the decision to conceive again means we've moved on or fully accept A's death.

To avoid people's immediate responses and also to try and communicate the best way to support E and I through this pregnancy, I'm going to write an email announcing it. Although it didn't work the way she wanted it to, I take much inspiration from Aoife's announcement email.

Upon initially learning we were pregnant, I was thrilled. Sure there was a flood of other feelings, but the predominant emotion was elation. Now, as the weeks have wore on I’m less excited and more focused on survival. I feel the need to put my head down and trudge through each day until we reach Dragon's birthday.

We’ll see how it goes. I imagine this subsequent pregnancy journey will mirror grieving in that it is an uncontrollable rollercoaster of emotions. Can we please just fast-forward to January?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An Ode to E (and All Babyloss Dads)

Like I mentioned in my Father’s Day post, I have a lot to say about my husband. Even before the tragedy of stillbirth entered our lives, I knew I had an extraordinary man. Since A’s death, I have been further awed by his openness in grieving, his composure in accepting the injustice that befell us, his fortitude to keep going and his endless patience and devotion to me as I wander lost in Griefland. This is an ode to my E, but I think it may apply to many babylost Daddies.

In those last few months, as I succumbed to the physical tolls of late pregnancy and tidal waves of hormones, E really stepped up. He was clearly exhausted, but never said as much.

Then, when it should have been over. When he should have been rewarded with his look-alike prize, the world demanded even more of him.

His strong, opinionated wife lie shattered at his feet incapable of making even the smallest decision. And he, utterly beat and worn out, stoops down and gingerly scoops up the broken pieces of his woman, every last deformed bit. Arms loaded with these unrecognizable shards, he cradles them and gently lays them on the bed. He does not try to fix it, to fit the pieces back together or reassemble. No, he waits. He enduringly watches as the heap of his wife slowly reforms - a flicker of her old self, the woman he fell in with, the one he married – only to crumble again. And still he keeps vigil over the crumpled pile of woman, even though his own devastation wreaks havoc inside him, his concern is for her.

He walks on eggshells as life moves forward, never quite sure what state she’ll be in that day, that hour. Sometimes he arrives home to a wife making dinner, humming along to the radio. Others, he opens the door and rushes towards the sound of her sobs. Immediately setting aside his own needs and wants, to embrace her in the only love that heals.

Time marches on. He’s had no reprieve. Exhaustion is an understatement. He is utterly burnt out from giving so much of himself, coping with his own anguish and functioning in the greater world for the both of them.

Regardless of his dried up reserves and his own need for nurturing, when he sees that wince of pain flash across her face he stops what he’s doing and comes to her. Still giving when he has nothing left to give. His dedication never wanes.

Patiently he monitors her status, absorbing the peaks and valleys; always braced for the storm. He abides.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have E as my partner. It is only with his love, patience and strength that I am surviving this. He is literally my reason for living.