Monday, August 13, 2012

My Forever Paradox

I wonder how I looked in those early weeks to outsiders.  How did strangers at the grocery store see me?  As a bereaved mother pushing a single stroller where a double stroller should be?  A woman with her heart completely torn out, fighting every moment to not go completely crazy and scream obsceneties at innocent bystanders?  A woman who would go out of her way to avoid even the mere sight of twins, any age, any gender combination?  A woman who had to make her husband go in to Babies R Us for returns and purchases, because she  A woman who, while her husband wandered the aisles amongst blissfully naiive pregnant woman, would sit in in her minivan (specifically purchased for twins) and scream, rage, and wail, not even giving any thought to the fact that people might hear her? 

Did they see this complete shell of a person I was, just going through the motions, not really sure I even wanted to go on?  Did they see a woman who felt every morning upon awakening that she was punched in the stomach, heart torn out all over again, nightmare playing and replaying on some horrible permanent loop with the stop button nowhere in sight?

In the very beginning, I thought they knew.  I thought everyone knew. 

Everyone knew I lost my son, that I had been played a fool, that I had done seven weeks of bedrest only to lose him at the very end to something I had never seen nor heard of in the hundreds and hundreds of pages of pregnancy books and countless websites I'd read, that I'd had a prior loss and was just angry as hell at the world, that I was hanging on by a thread so thin you could barely discern it was even there.

It felt like a big neon sign was hanging over my head, flashing "Dead baby!", and it was all anyone saw, it was me, it was my life, it was my identity, it was everything I ever was and everything I had ever lost advertised in two words for the entire world to see, judge, and pity.

As the weeks wore on, suddenly it occurred to me that people really didn't know.  They really didn't know.  This very simple rational logical fact was so elusive to me for a while, until it suddenly wasn't.  And I didn't know what to do with this epiphany.  Should I be sad that they don't know?  Did I want them to know? 

I quickly decided that everyone should know.  EVERYONE should know.  Because why they hell not?  Why should I hide this simple fact?  Why should I allow strangers to ooooh and ahhhh over my little girl without any acknowlegment of my sweet boy?  It wouldn't be fair to him.  He was just as loved and just as deserving of recognition and attention.  I HAD to tell people.  It was my job as his mother.  It happened, and I wasn't hiding it.  Not from any random person who dared ask me about my daughter, even the random Home Depot worker just trying to make conversation while they rang out a few lightbulbs and waited for our charge card to go through.

When I was in that mode, it angered me whenever people who knew us would visit and NOT say something about our loss or ask us how we were doing or just ANYTHING.  You know?  Address the fact that we had TWO.  Dont' say "When she was born..." say "When THEY were born".  I mean it's no secret I had TWINS.  (To be honest, it still irks me when people use the singular in talking about the delivery.  It seems to deny his existence.  He was stillborn but still born!)

Then, something very unexpected happened.   I went to visit a family member at work, and everyone there oooohed and ahhhhed over our daughter.  They didn't say a word about our son, our loss, or ask how I'm doing.  And I waited for the anger, and waited, and waited, and....where did it go?  What was that I was feeling?  Exhilleration?  Joy?  Bliss?  Could that even be possible?  Of course, it only lasted a little while before I felt horrible again.  Worse than horrible, because how could I allow myself that joy when my son was dead?!  So now I had guilt upon guilt and the missing him and all that I usually felt. 

That one experience though, it made me realize that eventually, I would be able to find moments, pockets of time, where joy would be present.  I would enjoy my daughter at times without necessarily having to think about how much I missed my son.  That as the weeks, months, and years would trudge on, those segments of time just might be more than a few minutes at a time.  The thought was a comfort, even though I felt very conflicted by it, as I felt I was betraying my son by feeling joy.  But I was betraying my daughter by NOT allowing the joy to be felt when it was there.  So I've had to learn to just let be what is, to take the sorrow and the joy both, to hope that they both balance one another out somehow (not that having her could EVER take away the pain of losing him!), to just feel what I'm feeling and not be guilty about the joy.  So envious, always, of people who simply know the joy of their living children without the pain of having to say goodbye to a child muting that joy so often.

I realized then too that many outsiders would simply see us out with our daughter and think we were a new family of three, not knowing that we were a family of four minus one, which is very, very different.  And sometimes, instead of that angering me, I felt okay with that.  Even pleased with that, I must admit.  It felt like a rebellion in a way.  Like let me keep something, let me take what I can from this, let it be okay for strangers to just see us and not know, let us wear this identity as a family of three for a bit to just relieve some of the heavy heartbreaking burden of being four minus one.  Even for a few minutes, even if it's a lie.

At twenty months out, I'm starting to think the world really doesn't always need to know.  This doesn't define us.  Our daughter is her own precious individual human being and is no less for her brother having passed away, and she deserves to be loved, cherished, adored, and celebrated on her own behalf.  No asterisk needed, no footnote, no sidebar, no epilogue, just on her own.  I know that now, to the core of my very being, and it's not a defense mechanism, it is simply The.Truth.

And it does make me feel better, to some degree.

But still, I find it's such a hard line to walk.  Wanting my son to be "counted" and recognized as being part of our family yet not wanting that loss to define him, to define us, or to determine how we choose to be in this world as a family.  I feel like it's my forever paradox.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Therapist #3

Third time's a charm.  I really have very little to say about my last therapist.  She was much more into psychoanalysis, had specific things she wanted to work with me on, and was overall sensitive and generally helpful.  I shouldn't be using past tense, because technically I am still her client, but I am taking a break for now.  The sad thing is that the billing department keeps messing things up, charging co-pays that I already paid (with credit cards so I have proof of payment), and with some changes to my insurance as of April that I didn't realize would impact things I've had to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket.  It isn't a lot of money compared to the overall, I realize, but it wasn't something we had planned for and saved for because it had always been covered previously.  Yes, I still feel the need to talk to her from time to time, but it's sadly become more stress than it's worth with the insurance changes and billing mess ups.  Kind of another kick in the face really after everything else.  I finally find someone who's decent, but it's just a pain in the butt.  : /

So there you have it.  The story of my three therapists.  I'm sure some of you have been through many more than I have without any success, as I know from personal experience there are some bad therapists out there!