deep breath… shields up… back to work.

I went back to work yesterday.   My mother fussed at me about it, but the doc says it’s okay.  It has only been 3 weeks, but sitting around the house thinking too much and going broke certainly isn’t doing anything positive for my psyche at this point..so back to work I go.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  Today, however, will be different.

Fate, you see, just keeps twisting that knife.  One of the women I work with was also pregnant.  She was due in December , I of course was not, but I ended up delivering less than a week after her.    In fact, the day she didn’t show up for work because she was a couple days from her due date,  I remember being particularly disappointed because I wanted to ask her something.  Since she was further along than me and  I saw her at least 4 days out of the week, she was my go-to girl when I had questions about being pregnant.  Of course I also did manic Googling, reading books,  and checking in with my nurse; but she was the real deal, right there at my workplace to share stories and assure me in person that “everything is fine”.    That day I remember wanting to ask her if it was normal to not feel movement for a day or two at my stage.   She will be there today and we will work together again for the first time since the two of us were Those Pregnant Chicks.   And since she is the boss’ daughter and it’s their family business, she brings her son with her to work when she comes in.

My boss asked me how I felt about that and if I wanted to only work when they weren’t around.  I promised I could handle it,  and that I didn’t want everybody else having to alter their lives because of my drama.  I even told her some crazy bullshit like it would be good for me to be around the healthy happy living energy that new babies bring.   Ha! What the hell was I saying?!   For the past couple days I’ve been coasting on a newfound stability,  sometimes making it all the way to bedtime without any tears at all.  My first day back at work yesterday was actually a nice distraction, mostly, and I was proud of myself for getting through it so easily.  Of course, there wasn’t a newborn baby boy in my face all day…

It’s a locally owned retail/gift shop– mother and baby will be in the back in the office, and I am out front busy with customers, so it’s not like I have to see them much at all… still, it’s just another ironic obstacle on my path.  Really, what are the odds of ANY of this crap,   let alone ALL of it?

So I’m sitting here about to get ready for work thinking about superficial shit like whether or not I should take extra eye make-up with me in case I cry it all off, or just not wear it at all.   I have been wanting to at least look good when I’m out in the world.  It minimizes the amount of pity that people pile on you when they see you for the first time.  Also there’s just the fact that I have been weeping and sleepless for 3 weeks, and without a good supply of war paint  it shows.  So I gave myself an extreme hair makeover and busted out some eyeshadow and lipstick which I rarely did before.  Little visual distractions for me and everybody else.   (That’s right, people, look up here at my weird hair color and not down at my weird belly!)  Yesterday I managed to hear “Wow, you look great!”  a couple times more than “Aww, are you okayyyyyyy?  How are you feeeeling?”  so that was nice.  Of course,  when I told the bosslady to put me back on the schedule,  I also asked her to spread the word for the rest of the staff not to ask questions, baby me, or treat me weird.  But today there will actually be a baby there.

You know,  when I got the job I thought it was great to be working at this woman-owned, family sensitive business with more than one pregnant girl on staff… I guess I still do… I gotta get my nosed rubbed in it one way or another right?  So it might as well be at work.

Waterproof mascara it is, then.

 

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when the bough breaks

Have you ever noticed what a horrible, frightening song “Rockabye Baby” is?  It’s about a baby being blown out of a tree by a violent storm that causes the branch to snap.  Why the hell have we been singing this to children for so long? Maybe there is a wikipedia answer for that.  I’ll check later.  I’m too sleep-deprived to give a complete crap right now.

I’m starting to have longer periods of feeling normal during the day, but the nightmares are still there at night… when I can sleep at all.  I reluctantly got a prescription for Ambien early on, because the first few nights after the hospital I got no rest at all.  Sometimes the medication works, but usually when it does the whole event replays itself like a horror movie in my dreams.   I see flashes of what I saw that day and hear the echoes of my own screams and it wakes me up in a panic.   Husband wants me to see a shrink about the whole deal, but I don’t think I’m ready.  I think I have every right to my fallouts and freakouts without being judged as going crazy.  I think the crazy thing would be if I was “over it” already and in a bright shiny mood all the time.  He has been my rock, he has been as patient and loving as anyone could possibly be, but sometimes I feel this pressure to “get better” that frustrates me into a whole other group of freakouts.

To be fair, I know that men can already be frightened by the intensity of women’s emotions even under ordinary circumstances,  and the emotions Husband has seen come out of me in the past 3 weeks have been beyond intense.   When I fall apart, I see fear and helplessness on his face and I wish I could shut it down sometimes… just to protect him from the tsunami.  After all, this is his heartbreak, too.   I saw him cry in a way I never wanted to have to experience.  We cried together.  We took turns holding each other.  But then it seemed that at some point he cried as much as he needed to and stopped.  He “got it out” and seems legitimately confused as to why I haven’t caught up.   Sometimes he catches me staring off into space looking sad and actually asks me “What’s wrong?”

Really?

Maybe it’s not confusion. Maybe it’s just exhaustion on his part.  It’s so important to him to see me move past this storm that sometimes I feel rushed.  I certainly don’t want to wallow forever,  I certainly want to move through this hell and get to the “happy ending”, but I certainly do not want to be rushed.

He’s an engineer by trade,  and his brain works like a computer.  I tried to give him all the realistic facts about what I’m going through to help him understand.  I described in detail for him the biological/neurological/physiological link between a mother and infant.  I described how crucial that bond is to the perpetuation of our very species.  I hypothesized that this very bond is most likely how “love” ever evolved in the first place:  from the link between mother and child;  the relentless unconditional drive to protect and nurture and feed and look after another being.  I reminded him how everywhere in nature, mothers become distraught when separated from their offspring.    The process of pregnancy itself was a sometimes painful one for me.  It was a complete transformation.  Not just my body, but my mind and all of my spirit and energy transformed into something else.  I became a Mother.  I became a whole new creature with a whole new set of drives and intentions.  My belly and breasts changed shape and size and biological composition in order to accommodate a new life, and so did everything else, including my mind and heart.   All of the systems are connected, and so when that link is severed,  it’s like taking the hard drive out of a computer and thinking it will still run the same way (I have to explain a lot of things to Husband in terms of computer functions)…  or maybe the motherboard …(my computer metaphors are usually off…)

The connection was broken, but the rest of my body didn’t get the memo.  A day or two after the delivery my breasts doubled their size and completely hardened, raging against me and punishing me for not using them.   When I would leak,  I would cry… leaking means it’s time to feed the baby… so your instinct is to go get that baby… find him and feed him.  It was a constant reminder and when there was nothing at the other end of that connection to find and feed,  I would collapse into angry helpless hysterics.  So Husband started telling me during these fallouts that I should “get some help”, a suggestion whose timing only served to make me angrier and more hysterical.

As my body has calmed down a bit so have the crying spells, and as I said before during the day I can feel normal for long enough to be functional.  But the memories are still there, haunting my dreams at night.  So then I don’t sleep well, so then I’m cranky, and now we’re at the point where we’re kind of taking it out on each other a bit.  I expected this to be part of the deal,  but it sucks.  Last night I freaked out and slept on the couch for some reason I can’t recall, which hurt both our feelings unnecessarily.  This morning he asked me why I had done that and I didn’t have an answer for him… so he gave me that look that a man gives a woman when he loves her very much but thinks she is quite insane.  I wanted to slap that look off his face but I just cried instead.. so he told me again to think about getting help.

I don’t need help.  I need to grieve.  Grieving is weird and scary and difficult and it’s making me weird and scary and difficult.  Maybe he needs help… maybe we both do… but right now I just need to grieve…and sleep… and find some ice cream… maybe with booze in it….

sigh…

phase 3: angry loss of faith

*Disclaimer:  If you are religious/spiritual and easily offended,  you might want to skip this one.  Expressing yourself when you’re in the depths of hell can get ugly.  I actually wrote this one about a week ago and kept it semi-private, but I think it’s important to share all the parts of this horrifying journey.  Triumph and Light may come later, but this is how I feel right now…

——————————————————————————————————————-

Sometimes (most times, really) I am overwhelmed by the force of love that has been washing over me and Husband like healing waves for the past couple weeks.  Other times, I just want to run screaming through the black hole in my heart and punch God in the face.

When tragedy strikes,  friends and family sometimes grapple for a way to find the positive in it for you.  ”Well at least it had nothing to do with your health, so that’s good news, right?”  I’ve heard that one several times, and every time it has made me want to eat the eyeballs of the speaker.   My son just died. Please don’t tell me what’s “good” about that just yet, mmkay?  But that poorly thought out pat on the back is at least based in something tangible and fact-based, as opposed to the list of encouraging tidbits that are mystical or religious.   At the risk of sounding ungrateful and bitter, let me make something clear:  the phrases “This is nature’s way of blah blah blah….” and “This is part of God’s Plan” come from the same gigantic load of horseshit that simply does not apply to me right now.

When there is a car accident,  there is always a reason for it.  Driving is dangerous, and there are thousands of other drivers around you hurling themselves down the highway at 60 to 80 miles an hour in heaps of metal and glass powered by a series of  explosions taking place about three feet away from your head.  So  as much as it sucks when an accident happens, it’s easy to see how things can go wrong.  There is always a reason.   Somebody fucked up.  Something was broken.  It rained.  There’s a messed up reason, but there is a reason.  There is still order to how things work.  You might not want it to, but ultimately it makes some kind of goddamn sense.

There is not an answer for me as to what happened to my child.  He was perfectly healthy. I was perfectly healthy.  Through his own healthy activity, he managed to get himself tangled in his cord enough to cut off his own blood supply.  My own doctor called it “very rare” and  ”just bad luck”.  ”Nothing could have been done,”  she said.  There was no reason.  There was no fucking reason for it at all.   Just a cruel kick in the face from fate accompanied by endless nightmares.  I did everything right,  we got past the scary part where things are supposed to go wrong if they are “meant” to.   I was almost  six months fucking pregnant.  The highway is a dangerous place… the outside world in general is a dangerous place… my womb is supposed to be the safest place in the motherfucking universe.  My body is still looking for him.  I had a healthy child inside me, and then I gave birth.  My hands, my arms, my breasts, my belly, my brain…. every part of my body thinks I should have a baby now.   And not even my doctor can give me a reason why I don’t, and so my mind won’t let me rest.  It searches,  wanders deep into the darkest parts of space and my exhausted angry mind looking for a reason.  There is not a reason.   I’m supposed to be looking for a cradle and a car seat to put my kid in right now, not an impossibly tiny fucking urn.   I’m supposed to be thinking about where to send him to school,  not where to scatter his fucking ashes.    No reason.  So if there is a god, and this is part of his “plan”,  then FUCK. THAT. GUY.

Yeah, I’m mad. I have always heard that one of nature’s most dangerous animals is a mother whose young has been threatened. You’re telling me the only thing I have to blame for this is God’s mysterious ways??  And then I’m supposed to pray to this same asshole for comfort?  What is he, some kind of mob boss who kills your family but then you have to kiss his ass and pay him off so he doesn’t kill you, too?  No, thanks.

At this moment in time, I can’t remember what I believed in before,  spirit-wise.  I know there was something.  I had some kind of faith…  If the creation of life and the birth of a child is the ultimate example of a faith affirming “miracle”, then this is the opposite of all that.   When a star dies,  it creates a black hole that sucks in everything around it… even Light.   So what, then, when a star dies inside you?    Is this when I cross over to the dark side of the force?  Might as well.. even Darth Vader had kids….

new year

I’ve been feeling a little… “better”, I guess is the word.  Yesterday I made it through the entire day without a meltdown, which was a nice way to start the new year.  The holiday season was brutal, under the circumstances, and I’m glad they are over.  I am able to talk about it without falling apart,  and I’m writing this right now without having to fight to see through the blur of my own tears.

My body is feeling stronger, too.  For the first week I thought my breasts were going to actually kill me if I didn’t nurse something.   And I had zero appetite so I wasn’t eating much.  I probably stayed in bed for a solid two weeks, surrounded by my cat, my computer, and endless balled up snot rags.  I feel (and probably look) like I aged about 15 years in the past 3 weeks… but at least i’m up now.

Of course there are times when I think I’m okay and then I get hit with an explosion of sadness that goes off like a nuclear bomb.  At least those blasts are getting further apart.

Thank you all for your kind words and support. Writing and sharing has been useful and cathartic therapy during this unexpected hell, and the loving response has been among the things that inspire me to take a deep breath and keep moving onward.  I appreciate it more than i have the energy to express.

solstice

Feeling a little more human… I think… sometimes.   At least the spaces between meltdowns are starting to grow.  When the call comes to go pick up his ashes, I’m sure this cycle will start again… but for now there is a lingering numbness.  Something like calm.  I hear myself laughing from time to time and it sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else… but at least it’s coming.

Of course, the night before last I had a dream that I was back in the hospital about to have labor induced again.  This time though, my blood was being drawn out through big thick needles and pumped into dozens of glass baby bottles.  I wanted to get away, but naturally I couldn’t move.

I didn’t sleep much more after that dream.

And apparently I am at the phase of depression where I need to write cheesy poetry like a 16 year old goth chick.  It’s a step, i guess…

—-

Red wine and tears and sleeping pills and games my mind is playing

Conversations with constellations: similar to praying.

And now the sun is far away, and so the world is colder,

“Have faith, the sun will rise again” they say as I get older.

I had a second beating heart, he took so long to find me

He came from space and left a space to constantly remind me

Now in the vacuum  of the void my mind is pulled apart.

Stumbling without the rhythm of my second beating heart.

Holy infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace.

hell

in order to fully experience the depths of hell  you have to first be lifted high up into heaven.  you need to get a good long taste of bliss,  get it deep enough in your system that it becomes part of you.  maybe it even comes to life inside you.  you need to get familiar with it… get used to it… learn to love it with all your heart and soul.

the trip to hell begins not with a fall but a gradual ascent.  like a comfortable plane ride.  first class seats, even.  you’ve earned the trip to wherever it is you think you’re going, but hell comes when the plane doesn’t make it.  you get your hopes way up, you make happy plans,  you believe strongly enough in something that you plant your soul in it… and then the crash happens.

hell is the crash itself, and the suffering you endure after the crash.  the crippling debilitating pain.  everybody tells you to move on,  and of course you want to move on,  but you can’t move at all.  your moving parts have been crushed.  you’re clearly being punished but you have no idea what you did wrong.

it was supposed to just be a quick trip to the doctor’s office. i had plans to go see a movie afterward with a new friend.  it’s been a while since i made a new friend, and i was looking very much forward to it.  but something had been bugging me and i needed to be told i was wrong.  so many things about pregnancy had spooked me into needless paranoia, and i needed to be told that this was another of those things.

he had been making himself known lately, thumping and dancing around in there as he grew. even husband was starting to feel him. we saw him wiggling and kicking around on an ultrasound screen.  we saw his face and fell in love.  “it’s a boy” we were told.  we had a son.  we talked about him, laughed about him. we beamed at each other with pride over him.  we made plans for him.  he was real, and we loved him.  after all the surgeries and doubt and trying and trying…  after all the doctors and treatments and waiting and waiting… after all the migraines and sickness and anxiety and discomfort,  after being told that pregnancy was something i would never be able to achieve at all… there was a new little person i had created dancing around in my womb.  an amazing, miraculous reward for all we had been through just to find this little creature.   and he really liked to dance.

so when he didn’t do it as much, i got worried.  i was told not to worry,  that i was at a stage where he had shifted position and i just couldn’t feel his little feet anymore.  i googled and read and asked around, and everybody- including my nurse- told me not to worry like they had so many times before.   “it’s normal” , “everything’s fine”, “stop worrying so much”… but that eerie lack of dancing was starting to make me cry myself to sleep at night.

still, it was supposed to just be a quick trip to the doctor’s office. they’d put the microphone thingy on my belly,  i’d hear the beautiful sound of my son’s heartbeat and be able to breathe a sigh of relief and go about my day… and my life.  the nurse would quietly judge me for wasting everybody’s time and i’d go see a movie and eat some nachos.

two nurses and a two doctors used three different machines to try to find that heartbeat.

*sigh*  “I’m so sorry….”

and with that the plane crashed… taking my heart and soul down with it.

everything that has followed has been torture.  i was immediately checked into a hospital and stuck full of tubes and needles, including one in my spine.  i had to “deliver”… so i was sent to the labor and delivery ward with everyone else, where i could hear through the walls the sounds of new lives beginning and proud papas being congratulated in the hallways.  i was paralyzed from the waist down. immobilized in my torture chamber listening to happy birthdays all around me while i writhed in discomfort and fear with a belly full of death.  Hell.

you know what was surprising? hell isn’t a dark place.  it’s very clean and brightly lit so you can see everything that’s happening to you.  a big flourescent spotlight made sure i didn’t miss the sight of my tiny dead son being moved away from my body.  i only caught a glimpse before the absolute horror of the sight blinded me with heartbreak and pain more intense than i ever thought was possible.  Hell.  i screamed like i’ve never heard anyone scream.   i cried and convulsed and wailed , overcome with helpless hysteria.  i wanted out of there.  i wanted to kick the doctor away.  i wanted to run and run… but i was immobile.  my legs were too heavy to move due to the tube they had fed into my spine.  Hell.  deeper and deeper into Hell.

i’ve been home from the hospital for a few days now, and every cell in my body strives to remind me of What Is Missing.  painfully, physically, and with every fiber and cell of my being,  I Want My Baby.  the need breaks me down on a regular basis and i find myself involuntarily screaming those words while choking on sobs that i had no idea were coming.  exhaustion is the only thing that brings relief from the crying.  i weep inconsolably until i’m out of gas until the next storm comes…. Hell.

that is where i am.  people tell me how brave i am, but i don’t buy it.  i am pure chickenshit right now:  a blubbering trainwreck mess with no recollection of ever being strong or brave… or anywhere but Hell.

i keep hearing that “it’s going to be okay…” but what is “going to be” doesn’t feel like it matter much when your soul is on fire right now.

long time no see

it’s been a while.

i was sick for a while, and then i was busy for a while, and then i was just conflicted about how to share my pregnancy story with people who might be sick of the “success” of others.  i felt like i went onto that list that we infertiles have of “everybody else but me” who was getting knocked up.  i felt outside of “the club”.  i had already been scolded once on a facebook page for posting a funny video with a baby in it on  a page about LAUGHING at infertility… i was told it was horribly insensitive of me, and this is before i was pregnant–

also i just didn’t have as much to say about being pregnant, because it was all so new to me.  infertility i had dealt with for a long time– pregnancy was all new terrain that shocked and amazed and confused me with every step.  i didn’t know how to translate that into the blogosphere.

i could go on with my list of excuses as to why i stopped writing, but none of it matters now.   i wish i had never stopped.  i wish i would have been recording the good parts…

have you picked up that i’m referring to my pregnancy in the past tense?

everything was going great. i was feeling stronger,  the little boy inside me was growing bigger and stronger.  i could feel him dancing and flipping around inside me for a while… and then i couldn’t anymore.  every little thing with the pregnancy made me paranoid and scared, and this was supposed to go on that list.  i scheduled a doctor visit, just to reassure myself that i was being silly and everything was fine.  i had just seen him in detail about 2 weeks ago via ultrasound… but this time,  the sweet sound of his heartbeat was gone. “no activity” she told me after a heavy sigh…

they booked me immediately into the hospital across the street to induce labor so i could deliver … the cord was wrapped arounf his neck 5 times.  a rare and random accident that couldn’t have been prevented or helped, i was told… which means theres nothing to blame…which means i fall aprt and end up blaming myself.

this was all 2 days ago.  i got home from the hospital last night and have been in bed having spontaneous breakdowns all day.  i have never wailed and cried and screamed so hard or so much.  this is Hell.

i was almost at 6 months. people have been rooting for us and excited with us.  we already have a couple boxes worth of gifts and of course stacks of baby books and magazines all over the house.

now i feel like we have broken a hundred hearts with The Bad News… just in time for the holidays.

so… that is where i’ve been, and where i am.

sorry to come back with such ugliness–

but this is the beginning of another journey, right?

right.

i’m going back to sleep now… red wine and motrin pm will see to that.

 

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