Article on Grief

A friend who knows grief well shared this amazing article with me:

The One Thing No One Ever Says About Grieving

A few parts that really spoke to me:

Grief crowds the heart, eats up all your energy and chronically imposes upon your peace.  But grief isn’t some evil force that’s only there to cause pain, grief is escorting up an even deeper feeling, a truth about your life, what you value and what you need.  Perhaps how much you wanted something, how deeply you care about someone, how far you’ve come from where you were.

And

Please remember, the grief you’re experiencing is yours, and you can carry it with you for as long as you like. Let go of it only when you feel ready-enough, and if you never feel ready, that’s okay.

The author uses the metaphor of a looping path to describe how grief comes in spurts, only to be swallowed or numbed for a while, then it jumps up at us again, followed by more numbing.

Some losses are so exquisitely painful, in a way that no one else could ever fully understand, that no one would fault you for staying in the loop.

What really spoke to me was the permission to stay in the loop until you’re ready to get out of it. I go back and forth as to whether I’m ready or not. I’m still not entirely sure.

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Unhappy Anniversary

It’s been one year since we lost the baby. September 13 was the day we found out about her condition, and September 23 was the day of my D&E. I don’t remember many details about those 10 days, just the hours of crying and begging my baby to die before I had to have the termination. I didn’t go to work, or leave the house other than to take my daughter to daycare. I honestly can’t remember how I spent my days. I know I didn’t cry ALL day long. I must have watched TV, or maybe cleaned or did laundry? Those days are lost to me now.

I think I’m doing okay, considering. I still think about the what-ifs, and sometimes imagine what life might be like today if our baby had been healthy. She’d be about 7 months old, maybe starting to crawl and experiment with solid foods. I’m sure she would be laughing and grabbing at her big sister, who would love being the one making her squeal with delight.

It’s too devastating to think that way, though, so I’ll stop.

To mark the occasion, I just made my very last payment to the RE for the frozen embryo transfer that gave us this baby. For those not doing the math, that means that immediately after losing our baby, we received an unexpected bill for thousands of dollars. It nearly sent me over the edge. But it’s done now, so hopefully I can let it go soon.

Until the storage fee for our two remaining embryos shows up, which it will sometime in the next few weeks. I’ll pay it, of course, because I’m just not ready to get rid of them yet.

So, as I was saying, I’m doing okay. Not great, but much better than I expected. I’m more focused and productive at work. I’m more patient and engaged with my toddler. I’m going to the gym a couple times a week and in general making an effort to be more active. I’m glad it’s fall again, even though the season is now marked by this sadness.

It’s Just Stuff

It’s just stuff, I keep telling myself. Stuff we don’t need. Stuff other people could use. Stuff that could bring us a little money.

Stuff that’s causing me a lot of anxiety. Baby stuff. And not just baby stuff that once belonged to our toddler, but baby stuff that was supposed to belong to her – the one we lost almost a year ago.

Most of the stuff is hidden from sight in the garage, but every once in awhile I come across something still in the house. Yesterday, it was my breast pump. I hated that thing. I was so fucking happy be done with pumping. I can still remember how relieved and free I felt when I packed everything up for the last time… until the next time I would (hopefully) need it. Now, it’s just a painful reminder that there won’t ever be a next time.

While the stuff itself is hidden inside containers, I know it’s there. Everyday, I walk by it at least twice. Sometimes my eye catches the labels: bibs, bottles, swaddlers….. Sometimes a breeze coming through the opened garage door moves the sheet covering the larger items and reveals a bright green section of an Exersaucer. But mostly it’s just knowing that the stuff is there, waiting for a baby that isn’t coming.

We’ll get rid of it eventually. Maybe we’ll try selling some of it, or maybe we’ll just give it all away to a family (or two) in need.

But that’s in the future. I can’t bring myself to part with it just yet, even though I know it’s just stuff.

More Sad Ramblings

I’m finding it almost impossible not to think about the alternate universe I could be living in right now if I had not lost my baby.

Instead of hauling heavy boxes up two long flights of stairs to set up for a work event, I would be wrapping up projects and briefing my coworkers who would be covering for me during my maternity leave.

Instead of crying over random baby items I (still) find stashed around the house, I would be purposefully and happily unboxing all the baby stuff from storage.

Instead of dreading having lunch with a friend who is also parenting with infertility, fearful that she may have “news” to share with me**, I would be excited to catch up with her and find out if they had decided on a FET date. 

I honestly don’t know if it’s healthy to let myself have these thoughts or not, but I don’t think I could stop them. Is it part of the grieving process, or is it hindering the process? I don’t know. They aren’t all-consuming thoughts, though they usually trigger a crying episode. I know I should be kind to myself right now, but having written this down, I now feel kind of pathetic. But, man, reality hurts so much right now.


** Damn, I hate when my instincts are right. She learned she was surprise pregnant from her pre-transfer bloodwork. I’m happy for them, but…. well, you know.

February

It’s February.violet-275x300

Breathe….

Ten days from now is my due date. (Was my due date? I suppose past tense is more appropriate.)

Breathe….

I keep thinking, If I can just get through it… Once February 11 is in the past, things will get better… easier.

The passage of time dulls grief, that I know for certain. But my grief is complex. All grief is, but what I’m referring to is the grief over not only the loss of my baby, but the how and the why, plus the grief over the loss of the family I had hoped we would have.

Every day, when I drop my daughter off at daycare, I see her interact with the other kids. For a few brief (but heartbreaking) moments, I watch her sit patiently as one of the younger girls “helps” my daughter take off her coat and boots. I see her make silly faces at one of the babies, and gently replace a pacifier like a pro, while I talk to the daycare provider. I’m barely holding back tears as I slip out the door to go to work. C would have made a wonderful older sister. Being an “only” will be great, too, I know – and C will never know any different – but it breaks my heart that she won’t get to be a sister.

While I have never for one moment regretted our decision to terminate the pregnancy, and even though I was treated with such care and compassion during the procedures, it remains a traumatic experience. And I still can’t get over the why. Why did this happen? I was on 2mg of folic acid, five times the normal recommendation for a pregnant person, and the exact same amount I took while pregnant with C. Why wasn’t that enough this time?

I’m holding on to a lot of shit. Shit that I can’t control. Shit that is irrelevant now. I’ve been holding on to the illusion that once my due date is in the past, all of that shit will dissipate, like magic. But that’s stupid. It’s not a magical date, and the universe just doesn’t work that way. I wish it did. I wish we didn’t have to do so much goddamn work to deal with our grief.

 

Getting Duped By Hope

I know this was only my first full cycle after my loss. I know we didn’t really try to get pregnant. I know it takes time to for one’s cycle to return to “normal” after a loss.

Still, I was devastated to get my period today.

I decided at the start of my cycle to use OPKs to have at least a general idea of what my body was doing or trying to do. I didn’t get a positive until CD 26, and we didn’t have sex until the day after that. Not avoiding trying to get pregnant, but certainly not making a valiant effort. Assuming I ovulated the day after that positive OPK (probably, since I also had fertile cervical fluid at that time), good old Aunt Flow’s arrival today means my luteal phase was a whopping 7 days. Or I didn’t ovulate at all, I suppose. Either way, it’s shit.

I had no right to hope for anything better than that, to be honest. I mean, back when we were TTC the old fashioned way, I always ovulated late-ish, around CD 20. And my LP was only 10 or 11 days long. So, not too far off from this cycle. Expecting my cycle to magically morph into that of a normal fertile person is simply ridiculous. Yet, I think subconsciously maybe I did expect it. Or at least I had hoped for it. You read so many stories about previously infertile women spontaneously conceiving, especially after a loss. Why couldn’t I be one of them? Didn’t I deserve to be one of them? Damn hope, once again reeling me in.

I don’t know where to go next. Maybe I would be happier not testing or tracking my cycle until we decide to really try to get pregnant (as unlikely as it may be). In fact, I know that’s what I should do. I should shut it down and not give it another thought until after the holidays. I should just enjoy Christmas with my family and work on healing my mind and body. Should….

Heavy Heart

heavyheartI’m struggling today. My own grief over our recent loss combined with the grief and fear over the presidential election results are just too much. My heart is just too heavy.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been doing the grief work that I know I need to do in order to heal and move forward. My therapist and I talked about the importance of acknowledging the loss in some way, like a service or ceremony, or some sort of physical memorial, like a tree (or the tattoo I’m planning). She asked if the baby had a name, and I told her no. It’s true – we hadn’t officially decided on anything, though I had pretty much settled on one before we learned of her condition. I hadn’t told my husband, because I was afraid I might change my mind before she was born. I still haven’t told him, but now I think I probably should. I think I would like for her to have a name. And, as much as it hurts, I would like to talk about her more, and giving her a name would help with that.

We haven’t talked about trying again. I’m afraid to open that door, because I have a feeling he will want to slam it closed and weld it shut for good. I keep telling people that we’re not sure if we want to try again, but the truth is that I do want to try. I want to try with our embryos until we don’t have any left. If we don’t, I may grow to resent it. I worry, though, about the strain it may cause. My husband is already working like a maniac to support us. We’re far from poor, but paying for even one more FET would be a stretch. Not to mention the emotional strain. At this moment in time, however, my desire to have another baby is greater than my drive to avoid conflict or discomfort, greater than my fear of having another baby with a neural tube defect.

I used to think people who claimed fear or grief after an election were just being dramatic. I mean, I wasn’t happy when George W. was elected, but I was far from scared or depressed. But this year, I’m among those scared and despondent. Chief among the many reasons for feeling that way is what this means for reproductive rights. It was hard enough for me to get an abortion for medical reasons, I’m legitimately afraid of how much worse things could get not only for people in a similar position, but also for those seeking abortion for any reason. Not only that, I’m dismayed by how many of my loved ones support a president and other elected officials who would take away my right to choose to end my pregnancy. It makes me sick to think that people I love, who are supposed to love me, would force me to carry to term a baby with no chance of living. It hurts. Deeply.

I’m not dealing with all of this emotional turmoil very well. Writing this blog post is the healthiest thing I’ve done in a while. Mostly, I’ve just been eating my feelings, and then feeling terrible for it, and  then eating THOSE feelings. A vicious cycle.