Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Waves of grief, expected, unexpected, accidental, and self-inflicted.
So, overall, things in my life have been improving. My husband and I have had some recent epiphanies about ourselves and our marriage, and I truly think if we both put forth the effort to fix things, we will be fine. More than fine, because if we can get through this, then we can get through anything. Right? So I’ve been feeling hopeful for the future, and I’ve been feeling good. I’ve even had moments of what I suppose they would call “acceptance” of what happened and of our reality. (?!?!) However, yesterday I had what I would call an intense wave of grief that came on, but thankfully lifted within a relatively short period of time. I wanted to share it so that those of you who feel intense grief most of the day may have hope that some day you will have days that are mostly good but with a wave of sadness mixed in. So I met my friend M and my sister-in-law A at Panera for lunch, which was great. I had some fleeting moments of sadness, like when I said, “We’re outnumbered” counting the kids and the adults, as my friend and I both had our daughters there and my SIL had her two girls there with her. I thought to myself, Every day I should be the one outnumbered. I should be at home with my two babies. And here, we should be outnumbered by even one more. Then, I looked over to see M and A’s girls (both two years old) jumping on the booth together and having fun, and my grief wave grew a little taller when I thought about how Evy will have to jump on the booth by herself when she’s two. How she won’t have Elias holding her hand to walk through life. How even if we have another child or children, she will still be lonely. Even if the “twin bond” thing isn’t real for all twins, even if it's usually something twins impose on themselves to feel even more “special”, and thus something she won’t “miss”, she will still be lonely, because she won’t have her same aged sibling to move through each milestone with. It was rough, and it sucked, and it made me wish I could be M or A and not feel the pain I was feeling, obviously. It made me wish I could just eat lunch at Panera and enjoy the company of my daughter and friends. After lunch, we went to Carter’s. I glanced over at the boy’s section and thought, “Nope, you’re not making me upset. Screw you, boy’s section.” Obviously there will be boy’s clothes at a clothing store for babies, and I know that, and I decide to not let it bother me, as obviously there will be baby boys being born and without them the future of our population would be gravely endangered. I went immediately to the girl’s section and glanced around, feeling so grateful that I am a mother to a living child and can buy cute clothes for my little girl. (This reminds me of a rant I have for later…A Babies R Us rant…I’ll save it for now.) So I walked around looking at all the clothes, and chose very selectively, as money is a bit tight. I decided to try and find a rainbow onesie for my IRL BLM friend who is having a baby girl any day now (in April 2010 she lost her fullterm baby girl to a placental abruption). I walked all around the girls’ section, all the way to the back and then to the front, and I couldn’t find anything. Disappointed, and some irrational thoughts creeping, like “Us BLMs always get the short end of the stick, why can’t there just be the perfect onesie just waiting for me to buy it for this woman who absolutely deserves the perfect gift?” I went to go find my friend M and my SIL A. Except there were customers literally standing everywhere I went to turn. I tried going this way and that way, until I was FORCED to walk THROUGH the boy’s section. Are you for real? Yup, the Universe hates us BLMs. I managed to walk through staying calm, but of course in the back of my mind wondered if I would ever have a boy of my own to shop for (although I do realize girl’s clothes are way more fun to buy). I got to the clearance bin and started sifting through, and I found onesie after onesie that said “Grandpa’s buddy” and “Grandpa’s little slugger”, and it literally felt like knives going into my chest. Flash back to the early weeks after we came home from the hospital and the day we decided to go through Elias’s things. My MIL had packed up his portion of the nursery (with our permission, of course), because we wanted our “homecoming” with Evelyn to be focused on her. Well. Going through his things wasn’t really too emotional for me, because let’s face it – he hadn’t USED any of those things. Plus, I was already a wreck, so how could it be any worse? Sorting through his things left me feeling angry, ripped off, robbed. We decided to keep some clothing for a potential future son (it felt comforting in a way), and donate some of the other things to a store that raises money for cancer research (not any relation to our loss, but a good cause no less). The “Grandpa’s buddy” onesie someone had purchased for our boy about broke me in half when I came across it. I literally lost it. The unfairness that my father will never get to hang out with his grandson still breaks my heart every single day. My dad was so proactive during my pregnancy. As my appointments became frequent and I was on bedrest, my father drove me to my weekly (and sometimes bi-weekly) ultrasounds. He was there every step of the way and bonded with those babies more than any other family member. He was the worrier, and even when doctors said things looked normal, he thought something was really wrong. It kills me, to this day. To think that my father spent the last days of Elias’s life pacing his home worrying about his grandson, and he was right. Elias needed saving. But none of us knew that. None of us really knew that. If we’d known that, we would have gone to the hospital. If he’d known that, he’d have done more than just pace. Of course none of us knew. We worried, but I’m sure there are countless families who worry or feel that something is wrong and everything turns out perfect. Just not this time, but that doesn't mean anything. I hope in my heart of hearts that my dad doesn’t blame himself for anything. One day we talked about it, and he told me that he doesn’t feel guilty, and that I shouldn’t either, because we did what we were supposed to do which was get things checked out. Even if we had begged for a c-section, which would have been irrational at the time considering the nurses said the tests were all within normal ranges, it wasn’t our decision to make. We weren’t the doctors. We weren’t in control. I could tell he meant it, and I was relieved that he wasn’t wrapped up in guilt. Anger, yes, but not guilt. I wonder if I will ever get to that point. I still feel like maybe I chose the wrong doctors, and that's why my son died, so it must be my fault because I chose them...but then we consult with others who say they would have made the same decisions based on the data. And at the end of the day I know my OB went above and beyond for me during the course of my pregnancy. If I had chosen different doctors, what are the chances they would have seen something wrong or guessed that I would be experiencing a one in five thousand pregnancy complication? And even yet, what are the chances we would have brought him home after the fact? F*CK, the cards were stacked against my boy from every direction, weren't they? I have tried to help my dad with his anger by explaining how fast FMH is and that either the doctors were right that everything was okay at that point or they were wrong, and a c-section might have meant he would have been born alive but with a massive bleed wouldn’t have likely survived. What we don’t know and will never know is if the bleed was happening at that point, how much blood had been lost at that point in time? Just impossible to know. But if it was acute and massive, as it was described to be, and as all the evidence points to, then I have to believe our end result would have been the same. The heartbreaking thing is to imagine that things may have been fine, and if they had done an emergency csection he likely would have been fine, but then why would they do an emergency csection at 36.5 weeks without an emergency being present? Why would they put me through major surgery with many risks without having a clear reason to do so? This is the fight inside my head of rational versus irrational thinking. And all the woulda coulda shouldas are quieted for the most part when I pick apart rational from irrational. But oh, this battle is messy and painful. I still get sad when I see my father. I love him so much that it hurts, and when I look at him and think of how this impacted him, it kills me. For awhile, it was really impacting our relationship. I felt I had failed him. I still do sometimes. I want nothing but happiness for my amazing parents, and I am so glad that they find such joy in Evelyn, because at least I know I did something right. See? There I go again, clearly still blaming myself. I fear I will always feel that sense of failure in that my son isn’t here, that he isn’t napping upstairs with his sister like he should be. So Carter's basically sucked, and that's why. That stupid clearance bin full of triggers. Today, because I apparently like to torture myself, I visited the “December 2010 twins” club on Babycenter. I felt like I wanted to see how my old “friends” were doing, the women who I’d connected with for all those weeks while we all feared preterm labor and whether we were eating enough, what we would name our twins, should their names rhyme or start with the same letter or not, should we dress them similar or not, what kind of sleeping arrangements and childcare we would get for two, and what impact multiples were already having on our marriage even before their arrival outside of the womb. Mistake. Those women, although wonderful and lovely people, weren’t really my friends. They were just ladies who were scared sh*tless like me. And now, they’re on one path, and I’m on another. A few of the women had left the group after miscarrying one or both of their twins. One had left the group when at her 20 week anatomy scan she discovered her boys had both died after tangling in their cords. I don’t know where those women went, but why would they return? And similarly, why should I? I made one real friend in that group, a woman who lost her girl a week or so after birth, and I still talk to her on loss forums. So really, why should I “check in” on the rest of them? I admit I was curious about whether they were still posting there, and I wondered what their babies looked like. And yes, they were still posting, and why wouldn’t they be? They need each other; they need others who “get it”, as I said before that moms of multiples is a subculture and support group in and of itself. I didn’t stay long but saw posts about napping, schedules, feedings, upcoming birthdays. I thought, “must be nice to have THAT be what you’re worried about instead of dealing with this New Normal.” I remembered many moms whose pregnancies seemed so easy compared to mine. I remembered that while I was on bedrest for Halloween 2010, many of them were painting their tummies for the occasion and handing out candy. I had been so resentful at the time, and here I am. Nothing has changed. I am still resentful. I get to be the one who had a rough pregnancy that impacted many of my relationships as well as my self-esteem, and I get to be the one to lose one of my twins to something completely unrelated to my complications, something I had never even heard of despite the countless hours I spent reading up on potential complications, while they breezed through their pregnancies and painted their tummies like big ol’ pumpkins to be ooohed and ahhhed at, and most importantly got to bring home two healthy living babies. I clicked on one profile and saw a photo of b/g twins sitting in a wagon on the 4th of July, and the tears came so easily. In fact, I was sobbing. The girl had an adorable dress with stars on it, and the boy sported red/white/blue plaid. He had his hand clutching her dress, and for some reason that killed me. I cried so hard and so loud that I can’t believe my daughter didn’t wake up from her nap. I looked at the ceiling through my tears and cried, “Why did you have to leave us?! Why couldn’t you just stay?! We need you here with us, Elias. I need you here to be a big brother to your sister and hold her hand through life. I need you to protect her and watch over her. Your sister needs you here!!!” And I allowed myself to just be sad, devastated, for her. For her loss. To entertain the notion that she may feel broken not having him here, even though I hope with everything in me that she doesn’t, that she feels whole. I don’t believe in the guardian angel thing, but in my own way, I do hope he is still looking out for his sister, watching out for her, making sure good things happen for her. My sweet boy Elias. My forever baby, my son.