Friday, June 10, 2011
Right Where I Am: 6 Months, 1 Day
Thanks to Angie from Still Life with Circles for starting this insightful and reflective project. This is right where I am, 6 months and 1 day after the loss of one of my twins. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I can’t help but reflect a bit on the early weeks in order to fully see how it’s different now. The ironic thing about how I feel physically is that I feel much worse right now than in the early months of my grief. During my twin pregnancy I had only gained about 35 pounds despite having eaten whenever I could and taking Zofran as needed. It just wasn’t happening. People would always joke, “Are you SURE there are two in there? Where ya hidin’ em?!” which now takes on such a sinister color considering I only brought one baby home from the hospital. My babies at 37 weeks upon delivery together weighed about eleven pounds of that 35. It felt amazing to make it so far with twins and have babies with such healthy weights in the face of how sick I had felt. Well, it felt amazing until my son died six days before I was scheduled to deliver, and then I just felt like I had Failed at the most important thing I had been ever called to do. In the weeks that followed, people would say, “You look amazing”, and people would ask me, “So how much weight did you gain carrying twins?” probably as a way to make small talk in order to avoid asking me how I was surviving the loss of my son or how I was coping. The Truth? Within a week or so of my c-section, once all the swelling went down, I weighed less than I did pre-pregnancy. Carrying twins was apparently a weight-loss strategy *sarcasm, in case you didn’t catch it, I want it to be clearly obvious here*. People would look at me, “Well how is that possible?” puzzled, disbelieving. “Well when you puke daily for over half of your pregnancy due to twice the hormones surging through your system, you have trouble gaining weight. Then, when you have horrible acid reflux to the point where you vomit almost daily, you have trouble gaining weight. Then, when one of your babies dies, you just don’t feel like eating at all, and you lose weight. I’m sure it can all be boiled down to some simple mathematical equation.” I didn’t really say that, but I sure as hell wanted to. (Every time I had to answer about my lack of weight gain I felt so self-conscious, as if the person must be judging me, thinking I starved myself and that’s why my son died. My son was actually an impressive 6 pounds, thank you very much. Both of my twins grew wonderfully all throughout my pregnancy, and never was there ever a cause for concern over my health or their growth patterns. But anyway.) And every time someone said, “Wow, you had twins?! You look GREAT!” I would think to myself, “Well, at least they acknowledged I had two babies, not one.” This was immediately followed by my inner dialogue back to them saying, “You know what? I couldn’t care less about how the hell I look. My son is dead. Screw off.” Over the course of the past six months, grief has not been kind to my body. I had used my sick days for seven weeks of bed rest followed by six weeks of maternity leave. I couldn’t take any more. Bills needed paid. And honestly, I NEEDED to get out of this house at that point. Returning to work after losing a child and not getting any sleep between grieving my son and caring for my newborn daughter? To say this was no simple feat (even just physically) is an incredible understatement. I have been in survival mode. Just trying to make it through the day. Planning, shopping for, preparing, and cooking balanced meals every day is obviously not happening. Thus, over the past six months, I have gained twelve pounds. The physical aspects of my grief are the least of my concerns, but since no one has asked until now, I took this opportunity to write about it. I feel lumpy and gross and unattractive on top of the countless other negative things I feel about myself, so it’s more of an insult to injury kind of thing. Emotionally, I am broken. Sometimes when my daughter is crying, I cry right along with her. I just celebrated my daughter’s first half-birthday, and it was so bittersweet. I am beginning to hate that word; I use it and hear it too often. One of my biggest challenges now, 6 months out, is to not be robbed of any more than I’ve already had taken from me. I dreamed of my son years before he was ever conceived. Those dreams have been shattered. I lost my son, and along with him, I lost the pure joy of delivering my living daughter, an experience I had awaited my entire life, because the worst and best day of my life were one and the same. Some days I don't know if my marriage will survive this pain, and I feel like I will likely lose everything I once had and loved. I have lost my faith in prayer, completely and utterly. I feel cheated, abandoned, empty. I’ve always dreamt of having twins, as they run in my family and I knew it was a possibility, and now the unique parenting opportunity of raising same-aged siblings has been torn from me. I am left being bombarded with photos and Facbook updates from the other twins in my family, the ones born to women who must have been much more deserving than I. While I was pregnant with twins, society placed me on a pedastal that I never asked to be placed on. My pregnancy was "special". I've been violently tossed, and I feel like everyone can see the bruises and scrapes from my fall, and many show me pity rather than compassion, which leaves me cringing and seeking to avoid them altogether. It’s not quite the same as in the early days, where I felt like everyone at the supermarket would look at my daughter and just know somehow that she was a twin, which obviously didn’t happen. They all saw my drawn expression and thought I was simply sleep-deprived due to having a new baby at home. These days I just feel sad, sad to my very core, and I feel like everybody sees it and thinks that I am just not cut out for motherhood and am miserable with my daughter. I fear my daughter will resent me for not being the shiny happy perfect mommy she deserves. I fear my daughter will blame me for her brother not being here. I fear my daughter will feel as broken as I am when she finally comes to understand that she has a twin that didn’t make it. I love my daughter so fiercely that it hurts. I feel like I’m loving her times two, because I can’t physically express the love I feel for my son. Mentally, I need help. And I know it. When I first lost my son, while I was still in the hospital, one of the OBs (one I had never met before) made it a point to come to my room and tell me repeatedly that this wasn’t my fault. I was like, “I KNOW that!” and looked at her like she was an alien with fourteen heads. Truly, I was thinking “DUH, how the HELL could this possibly be MY FAULT after everything I did during this pregnancy to bring him here safely? How could this be ANYBODY’s fault with all the extra monitoring and appointments and scans my OB offered? She was just as determined as I was to bring these two babies safely into the world! It’s just something horrible that happened that no one knew would happen, and some day I will just have to find a way to live with that.” I honestly didn’t think any other way for weeks and weeks. Six months out? I am thinking that the doctors must have been incompetent, that I must have done something horrible to deserve this, that I somehow failed my son when he needed me the most, that I should have known something was wrong, that I am hanging on by a thread, that I can’t stand the sight of myself, that I have failed every person I have ever loved, that I shouldn’t have been born to begin with and then none of this pain would exist for my loved ones.