Friday, November 12, 2010

break down

oh man, yesterday was so hard. i really thought i was starting to come out of this. my midwife told me that there would be peaks and valleys and to not take the good days for granted. i didn't realize that i was until i had a bad day. a really bad day.

the past few days the bleeding has slowed down a lot. i'm basically just spotting now, i don't even need to wear a pad. and everyone keeps saying that's insanely fast for just having the loss on saturday 11/6. but the way i see it, i spotted through much of the pregnancy and i was full on bleeding for a week before i released the tissue, so it doesn't feel quick to me but whatever. i feel like i can't go back to my midwife's office yet, it's almost like i get PTSD just thinking about it. so she's been really great about letting me go with my instincts on whether or not things are going ok. i know that i'll have to go in for a checkup at somepoint when the bleeding stops but for right now i just have to keep taking home pregnancy tests and waiting for a negative. this is turning out to be harder than i thought because yesterday morning when i peed on the stick and there was this super super faint positive, really just a suggestion of a line, it totally broke my heart. i kept thinking about how the last time i saw that little line we started freaking out and celebrating... it's hard to see it now. i know i should be grateful that my hCG is going down so quickly but more than anything else i feel panicky. it's really over. there's no baby in there. we're back where we started...

i went back to choir last night. i'm so over this choir thing. i'm glad to have the mother/daughter bonding but it's just boring me to death. i'm trying to stick it out since it's great for networking (i've met a lot of important, albeit very old, people through this group). anyway, so i went back last night and i didn't even think about how hard it would be to sing chritmas music. that thought didn't even cross my mind. i love christmas... right?

i can't even really describe what happened. it was so brutal. one minute i'm singing "hark the harold angels" in latin and the next i start to feel like my throat is closing in. i starting having to take these big gulping breaths and then of course my eyes start swelling up with tears. i literally had to lip sync my way through the rest of rehearsal. every time i'd start to sing a line i felt like i was having a panic attack, almost like my chest was closing up. i tried to hide it, but i'm sure people were noticing. no one there knows about the pregnancy so i'm sure they just think i'm hormonal or something. but it was bad.

when i got home i just totally melted down. i was having a full-on panic attack. it made me realize that maybe i should be getting help and i might not be dealing with things head-on. the realization that christmas would have been the halfway point of my pregnancy hit me like a ton of bricks. we would have been halfway to the finish line. even if i get pregnant again right away it won't help anything, it won't make it easier- i'll just feel like i should be farther along than i am. i mean, if i get pregnant again tomorrow i'll still be only 7 or 8 weeks at christmas. that's not even far enough along to tell people. for a planner like me the fact that i can't find the next step is killing me. i feel like i spent the last ten weeks rock climbing and then i missed one foothold, just one little foothold, and now i'm hanging on to the wall by my right arm, by my little pinky finger, and i can't find any of the footholds or handgrips. i'm just hanging here with no safety net just groping the wall frantically. there is no next step in this situation. do we keep trying? just pretend nothing happened and start over? i really feel like if i get pregnant again it's going to kill me. i can't even imagine it.

here's the other thing that has me thinking that everything might not be ok- i keep having these dreams. i know that sounds pretty paltry, but my dreams are going crazy. i feel like i don't even sleep anymore. they're always catastrphic- crashes, getting lost, being smothered in a crowded room of people. it's insane. but the hardest, the one that's reallt haunting me is the one about the funeral home...

on one of my last days there i had to work a memorial for a 26 week gestation fetus. i remember when i got into work that day my manager told me about it. because i worked the night shift there wouldn't be a funeral director there. it wasn't technically considered a "funeral" even though there'd be a dead baby dressed and in a coffin. they were only expecting around 10 people- tops. so he tells me i need to go look at it and learn to hide any disgust because "it ain't pretty!" so i went into the wake parlor and looked at it.

here's the thing, i've been trying to write this down since it happened, because that's how i cope with things, i write; but i cannot adequately explain this situation. i was only 21, i didn't even have a steady boyfriend so babies were definitely the last thing on my mind. and seeing that baby- it was something i can't use words to describe. horror? maybe... but i remember thinking that it looked like a baby bird. you know how in the spring when you're out walking and every now and then you'll look down at the sidewalk and see one of those bald baby birds squished on the pavement because it got pushed out of the nest too early? that's what this baby looked like. it was so tiny and shriveled. you want to think of babies as pink and plump but this one was more purple and squishy looking.

anyway, so i go back into the office, assure my boss this'll be no problem and go about my business. i couldn't understand why someone would want a funeral for this... it was my job to counsel people who were having a funeral. i sympathize, make suggestions, but more than anything else just apologize over and over. but i just felt this empty well of words, i had no idea what i could say. so before my boss leaves for the night he comes in a tells me- "more than anything else, really the MOST important thing, is that you don't let her touch it. don't let her try and hold it or touch it or breathe on it. grieving mothers always want to do that and for babies this small we can't embalm them or do anything to preserve them so if she touches it, it will crumble in her hands like rotten fruit."

"no problem," i thought, "who'd want to touch that..."

first thing, the mother was a mess. i mean a real mess. worse than any other wake i'd ever worked. forget about finding words to comfort her, i don't think she even knew i was there. the husband was trying to hold her up, but he was pretty wrecked too. i had no business working this service alone. i knew i was in way over my head. so the service starts and people read poems and the cleric says a blessing and they all call the baby, a girl (which i hadn't noticed), by name. when it's all over people start filing out until it's just the bereaved parents and their parents. so the mother is leaning over the tiny casket and i know, i just know, she's going to touch it. and i can't even say anything. i was so freaked by the whole situation and so out of my element, i couldn't even open my fucking mouth. i walk up behind them just as she's reaching in, and out of panic i spit out "don't touch it!" just as she lifting it. and then we all hear a soggy pop. like stepping on a branch after a rainstorm. not a crack, but a just a little wet give way sound. and all hell breaks loose. i couldn't even see what was happening... i knew the head had come loose.

i remember her putting it back down, and the husband and parents rushing her out of the funeral home. it was like they didn't even see me. it was like i wasn't even there. the husband kept saying "they told you not to touch her when we brought her in, remember? the man told you not to try and pick her up..." the sound of his voice is something i can't forget. i can't get it out of my head. the tone, the timber. it was like he had metal lungs...

i just keep thinking back to this. i dream about it. i have nightmares there are 2 babies in the tiny casket and one is mine. every callous thought haunts me. i got sloppy drunk after work and laughed and laughed about the dead bird baby in a shoebox. about how much that "funeral" cost them... i can't stop thinking about how awful i was. the worst thing is that i just could not understand their grief. i had no idea. and now i am haunted by that.

so what was their next step? that family who lost a baby much bigger than mine? what did they do? Orion and i haven't had any sort of service for our baby. i read about other women releasing balloons or reading a poem or buying a bracelet to wear and remember. what do i do? i'm just stagnanting. hanging on by my fingertips. i can't find the next foothold and i don't have a safety net...


  1. Serenitysomeday said...
    Tattoo? Would that help? It's a much more substantial memorial than releasing of balloons or a bracelet so easily lost.
    November 12, 2010 8:18 PM

    Shan said...
    For the baby I grieved the hardest we took booties and put them in the ocean. Just us.

    I'm sad you had that experience that won't quit haunting you now. I hope you realize (now or eventually) that your youthful, unguided reaction to what must have been a horrifying situation did not lead you to this place.

    I wish I could offer you the foothold to your next step. I can only assure you that you will find it.

    November 12, 2010 11:06 PM

    grace said...
    you know, actually we were talking about getting a tattoo. both of us would get the same one in the same place. i can't figure out where i'd put it. i was thinking on my ribcage, sort of under my breast by my heart... something simple like just the due date "05.25.11" maybe in a heart? November 13, 2010 12:46 PM

    grace said...
    Thank you so much for saying that Shan. i know it sounds like just one of those stupid things, but i can't stop thinking about how callous i was... i worked some ridiculous wakes and i was always about to muster up some respect no matter the situation. why did i have to be such a bitch about that one? it's hard to not think that losing my baby was some kind of karma...
    I have hope that I'll catch that next foothold, but it feels so faraway. thanks for the reassurance
    November 13, 2010 12:49 PM

    Michelle said...
    Grace - I, too, struggled with how to memorialize our baby. We had NOTHING to show for it; no positive pregnancy test, no ultrasound, nothing except mounting medical bills from ER visits and six weeks' worth of blood draws.

    One of the tangible things that helped me a lot was the Comfort Bear sent by Sufficient Grace Ministries ( They're a religious-based organization, but they don't beat you over the head with it if you're not religious. They provide free Comfort Bears and grieving books to any families who have lost a little one.

    Another place that helped me a lot was To Write Their Names in the Sand. Carly, who lives in Australia, lost her son a few years ago, and one of the ways she's coped is by writing the names of other lost children in the sand of a gorgeous beach near her home. She takes name requests about once a month (Find her on Facebook and she'll pop up in your feed) and it can take a couple months to get your child's name written. You also can buy the digital file from her so you can reproduce it as many times as you want. Here's the one we had done for our baby:

    You just need to take this all one day at a time. As you said, you'll have good days and bad days and, as the good days start outweighing the bad days (And they will eventually, I promise), the bad days will surprise you and can hit you like a ton of bricks.

    The holidays will be incredibly rough, I'm not going to lie to you about that. They'll be especially rough since your loss is so fresh. But focus on the things you have and keep your baby in your heart because, whether your child is living or not, you ARE still a mother.

    If you need anything, you know where to find me! :)
    November 17, 2010 6:33 PM

  2. sorry everyone! had to copy and paste the comments from my old blog