Friday, June 24, 2011
In the early weeks and months after our loss, I felt so incredibly close to my husband. I felt protected, loved, and cared for. I saw how he took charge and was so incredible with our daughter. I felt like without him, I'd die from the heartache of losing Elias. Our relationship was suffering due to the stress of my being on bedrest, but suddenly none of that mattered compared with what we were dealing with after losing a child. My husband completely amazed me with how he was handling everything, and I honestly never loved him more. I remember looking at him thinking how much closer we would be now that we had this loss in common. Nobody else in the world had this in common with us; nobody else in the world could call themselves Elias's parents. It seemed something to suddenly solidify us when for many weeks tensions were high and I was very unsure of our relationship.I thought, "Wow, this is the first gift our son has given us, and I'm sure there are many more to come as the rest of our lives unfold".Now, I've come to realize, that just because I consider Elias my silent teacher, and I want to live my life better to honor him, that doesn't mean my husband is on the same wavelength I'm on. This breaks my heart almost daily, and I'm not quite sure I can handle it much longer. I feel like we are on totally different levels, different pages, different worlds sometimes. I hate this. I hate how this loss seems to be destroying other things in our lives. I hate that my son may be watching us from another realm and probably sees us arguing every single day and feels horrible about it, feels like his death has ruined everything. I don't want that for him. I want my son to see that he has changed us somehow for the better - that we love one another so much more fully now, that we appreciate things more, that we let things bother us less, that we don't let the little things get in the way of our joy, that we are genuinely caring and kind to one another always before anything else, that we will be spontaneous and not worry about a line being too long or a drive being too far, that we will soak up each moment, enjoy every minute we have with his sister and just be happy to have each other. Traffic, clutter, work stress, etc. just doesn't matter in the face of what we've been through. WE are what matters. I feel our son wants us to learn these lessons and live better for having loved him, for having had him in our lives for the eight and a half months that we carried him. I'd like to think Elias wants us to have learned to not waste these lives we have been given but live twice as fully because we are living for a little boy who doesn't have the luxury of life.The sad realization I've come to is that these are all lessons I alone have learned.Yet another sense of isolation has taken over. A new grief.(Apparently I don't already have enough of that in my life at this point.)I am so completely and utterly alone in my grieving and in what I do to try and honor our son. Our son deserves so much more. If he can't be here physically, the least we can do is try with all our might to love each other better, live our lives more fully, and make him proud to be our son. * * * Today, we went for a consultation to get a plan in place for our tattoos. The hubs and I have both decided to get the same design, and as excited as this makes me, today I just felt sick about it. We went in and discussed our options with the artist and left. It was a very brief meeting in which the tattoo artist disagreed with my ideas (but was very gently and tactfully honest about it) and also did not say he was sorry for our loss. My husband did tell him (briefly) what happened, and while he spoke I followed my daughter's gaze to the fish swimming around in the colorful tank alongside the far wall. I didn't add anything, nor did I want to, and I kept my eyes on the tank, but it shocked me that we didn't even get a simple, "I'm so sorry" in response. I'm not angry about this, just surprised and confused. Earlier today I had been so stoked about this consultation, but suddenly I started to feel so damn ambivalent about everything. Like, what's the point? BLOGPOST EDIT DONE THE NEXT DAY 6/25/11 - Sorry, I know some of you have already read this and/or commented, but I just want to say that the tattoo artist was actually very professional, and the suggestions he made will make him less money, so I know they came from the right place. They were along the lines of "less is more" suggestions, and I can tell he is a true artist that cares about his work and its aesthetic appeal. To me that is also important (in addition to having a meaningful tattoo). He assured me I could always add to my tattoo later but wanted me to start with something "simple and uncluttered" to see if I would like it as is, and I actually agree now that I'm less emotional about things. Also, I want to add to this post that the tattoo artist sent me a FB message to my inbox saying how sorry he is for our loss and how he simply can't imagine what it would have been like to go through. So I'm assuming he was simply quiet about it in the parlor because it was a public place, there were other customers, and he initially may not have known how to respond. I feel a lot better about our choice to go with him, and I know he does awesome work. Bottom line, I think I was just feeling very fragile and so I took his ideas as a sort of personal attack on account of my understandably vulnerable state. Luckily, he is so popular he is booked solid for two to three months, which will hopefully give me more time to be in a better place about the whole thing. END EDIT. We were getting new phones after our consultation, and at the phone store my husband was blabbing on and on about some technical phone jargon that honestly I probably wouldn't have even been focused enough to listen to on a good day. This was certainly not a good day. I was just staring off. I wasn't even listening. It took everything in me to just sit there and not cry. He kept talking until he finally saw my blank expression, and it suddenly registered that I hadn't heard a word he'd been saying nor did I care. His next words sent the tears erupting. It was like they had been just waiting there for some acknowledgment, some permission to fall."Are you okay?" he asked."No, I'm not. I don't want a tattoo. I want my son back."
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
So, I’m not really sure what’s happening here. I’ve either turned a corner, or else this is an “up” time for me that is about to be followed by another “down”. I’m hoping it isn’t the latter. How I feel right now contrasts so much from where I’ve been. About a week ago, I woke up, and I just felt completely different. It was the day after we attended a dedication ceremony and balloon release for our son, and it was just so moving and beautiful. We had so many friends and family in attendance, and I found the whole experience so incredibly meaningful and healing. There is now a place where our son's name is engraved alongside a butterfly in stone, and we can visit this place for reflection and meditation, and I love that. I have read countless blogs in which women said something like this would NOT happen with grief. But I have to be honest, it was just like this switch had gone off in my head, and I decidedly wanted to LIVE. Over six months out, and I realized, you know what? I’m a survivor. Let me interject here to say that I would give my life for my son to be here healthy and happy, even though my husband hates when I say that and always responds with, “So you’d leave me to be a single dad to raise twins?! No, I want YOU here with me.” It's just the love I feel for both of my children is so fierce, that I would literally do anything for them. I have dreamed of them since my own childhood. The love I feel is more intense than any other love I've ever known. I would trade places with my son without hesitation. But I don’t have that choice. I can’t go back, and even if I could go back, I wouldn’t have had that choice. And I am finally coming to realize that none of this is about choices I made. I know that when I am thinking logically, and I wish my heart would hurry up and catch up with my mind already. My instinct is to make sense of it, to push it into some sort of equation that all adds up, to categorize things again, fit things into boxes, see things as black and white, see the world fitting into my prior vision of a place of balance and justice and reason. I want to think there was a Plan. But now I know, things just happen. Our family has suffered great heartache and tragedy, but for whatever reason, the rest of us are here. Our lives have been spared. And I don’t want to spend another minute in self-pity mode wasting this life that I’ve been given. Okay, that is totally unrealistic; I know there will be MANY moments of self-pity and guilt and all that darkness again. I know I am GOING to feel the horrible feelings again, the irrational thoughts will invade again, and I will sob and wail and as another blogger put it, “claw the carpet in anger” (I’m paraphrasing, here). So maybe for now I will just say, I don’t want to spend another DAY in self-pity mode. That seems much more manageable, doesn’t it? Today, I’m okay. I've gone days without crying, actually. I had heard from others that this would happen but was in disbelief about it. I kind of feel like I am starting to “integrate" this loss as part of who I am instead of all I am. It will never be okay that he’s gone. But maybe, just maybe, I will not only survive this because I can, but I’ll survive this because I WANT to. I’ll survive this because there are amazing people in my life, because I have a career I find fulfilling, because I have new aspects to my identity both inside and outside of parenthood (and parenthood should never be anyone's entire identity!), because I find such inspiration in all the incredible women I've met on my grief journey, because these women have added a richness to my life that I never knew before, because I have a daughter who deserves a mother who doesn’t mope and feel sorry for herself 24/7, because after all I've been through I know who my real friends are, because I want my son's legacy to be a positive one, because I have many, many, lessons to absorb from my wonderful son who just couldn't stay. My son died. I didn't. It has taken me over half a year to realize this, fully, and to write it down so bluntly. Even now as I say it, I feel that stubborn old friend, guilt, gnawing at my heart. I feel guilty to be alive when he isn't. I feel guilty that I couldn't protect him. But the guilt is less today than it was yesterday, and I've reached a turning point where a bigger guilt threatens to overtake me - the guilt of having wasted the rest of my life. I can't let my son's death be the end of me. He died, but I didn't. And that is both a blessing and a curse. I have been focused on the negative of being here without him, how horrible that makes me feel, and how painful it is. Now it's time to take the same thing that causes me pain and realize it should bring me comfort. I am here. I am alive. I need to live my life to make my son proud. To waste my life would be cruel to my son's legacy. I know he doesn't want to be the end of me. I will never be the same, nor should I be. Hell, I've read novels that have changed my life, so how could I or anyone else expect me to not be profoundly changed by the loss of my beloved chid? My world has flipped several times over the past two years, and it's still settling into place. The pieces, slowly but surely, do begin to settle. I know you never get over it, but you get through it, somehow. Maybe, just maybe, I'll come out of all this somewhat recognizable, even.
Friday, June 10, 2011
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.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
I've hit a low point. The bottom of a pit. I can't see my way out. There's barely even a glimmer of light at the top when I look up. I see darkness, darkness, and more darkness. I need help. I'm falling apart at the seams. I am barely even functioning anymore. Everything that happens has some connection to my loss, even when others have no idea that I'm making that connection. My entire life just feels like one massive mistake, like I should have never been born in the first place. I'm just cursed to do all wrong and no right. Why else would I have a traumatic miscarriage in public? Why else would my son die six days before his induction date? Why else would I feel like obviously somewhere I made a horrible turn for the worse and my entire life just fell apart? I am ruined. I am gone. I am nobody. I am nothing but pain and empty and broken. All I have brought into this world is death, pain, and destruction. I may have a daughter, but she doesn't have a mother, and how will she ever be happy knowing her twin died? This is what nearing 6 months out looks like. If this gets any worse, I don't think I will survive this.