Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Searching for the joy

Things have been so busy and yet I have wanted to sit down and write for sometime now. I woke up at 4:30 this AM and decided there was no better time.

I have been struggling to connect with this pregnancy, to bond with this little boy. I keep hearing that this is normal, that my my head is just trying to protect my heart, but I am his mother and I don't want to miss out on a single second of what should be a very happy time in my life. It's something I think about daily, but last Thursday it really came to a head.

We had our support group last Thursday and part of the problem was that because of the holidays it had been longer than usual in between meetings. I couldn't believe how ready I was for it! The other problem, it's a place to talk about our lost babies, but not a place to talk about pregnancy after loss. While the two are very much connected I know the last thing other baby loss parents need to hear is how hard this is. So I wear something to try and hide the belly and I never ever bring it up. Here in lies a major problem. So much of my current hurt has to do with packing up my daughter's things and the fear I have over losing this baby and yet those things are left unmentioned.

One of the leaders told a story about "embracing the joy" she gave an example about losing a mother, getting a step-mother, losing that step-mother and then getting a second step-mother. One of the children was able to embrace each mother and the other couldn't after the loss of the second one. (I get that this isn't the same, but work with me). So this "latest" mother has now been around for 20+ years and the one sibling has missed out on her by not allowing herself to embrace the joy and the other has a great relationship with her. Basically the one sister has been too fearful to love this woman and so has kept her distance, while the other has had 20+ years of wonderful memories and love.

I sat in silence after this story and the more I thought about it the more my eyes welled and my throat got tight. I couldn't help, but see that THIS is my problem. I can't embrace the joy. I was sitting there 24 weeks pregnant with a seemingly perfect, healthy little boy and I haven't enjoyed a damn minute of this pregnancy with him. I missing it now and I will most likely miss out on more due to my intense fears.

My mind was racing and I was thinking why, WHY can't I just allow myself to go there. Brian has embraced the joy and as the mom I should too. I was asking myself these questions:

Q. If we lost this baby tomorrow would I be any LESS sad because I have kept my heart at a distance? A. NO

Q. If we lost him too, would I regret not letting myself enjoy this as the only time we got with him the way I should?
A. Yes

Q. If he is born alive and we get to keep him, will I regret not enjoying this time in my life?
A. Yes

Q. If I had been less excited for Addison, would losing her have hurt any less?
A. No

Q. Does loving him make me love Addison any less?
A. No

So there you have it, not a damn reason that I can give myself that I shouldn't be loving every second of this pregnancy. I am not a miserable pregnant lady, my body handles it well and I enjoy the way my body changes, the movements, basically all of it, but this time I feel so cheated and the problem is that I am the one to blame. The problem is I DON'T KNOW HOW to embrace the joy. I know it's there, but there is too much fear in front of me to get to it.

Old me, rational me would have said "just do it", just make yourself. You know it's for the best, but new me, terrified me can do nothing, but cry about it (which I did in a full on melt down after the meeting). Poor Brian. He kept trying to get my attention at the meeting, pulling on my jacket and I kept ignoring him. I was just trying not to look at him, trying to hold the tears back until the meeting was over. Then as we left, there were the hugs good-bye and something about a hug when I am about to lose it makes me REALLY lose it. So there I am in tears and Brian is feeling like he is responsible when really these are my issues and no one elses.

Once we were out to the parking lot he says, "I know this makes me a jerk, but I don't know what's wrong", which actually made me laugh. Of course he didn't know what was wrong, he is not a mind reader! I couldn't talk about it with him, I needed some time to go over it some more in my head before I could say it out loud. He was so worried and I felt bad for not sharing what was on my mind, but I just couldn't.

While letting this out was important, it really got the crying going. The more I cried the more I couldn't hold it back. I cried so hard it hurt. I went through more tissues and flipped my pillow more times than I can count. I was crying for both of my children, for the daughter that is missing and for the son that is here right now, growing in my belly and yet I have missed out on the good parts. Even when I really tried to calm myself down (deep breathing and all), my body was still shaking, noise was still coming out and the tears kept falling. You know when a child gets themselves really worked up and the "after cry" after the big cry is still effecting their bodies and they just can't control it? That was what this was like. Brian was rubbing my back, talking sweetly to me and nothing would help. I don't know how long I cried, but I would say at least a couple hours.

Almost one week later, the tears have of course stopped, but I am still struggling. I got asked if I was excited the other day and it was as if someone had asked my weight, I just froze, kind of nodded up and down, then a little side to side.

I want to be excited, I crave it. I truly just don't know how. I really can't picture this little boy coming home with us. I don't believe he is really going to be born alive and healthy and that everything will just "work out this time", if it didn't with Addison, why would it this time? I'm not in a hurry to do any of the things I did before before because they don't feel necessary. I don't feel over half way there.

When I was pregnant with Addison I would see other pregnant women and feel an instant connection with them. Our eyes would meet, we would give each other an all knowing smile and go about our business. This time I avoid pregnant women like the plague. I see one and I hate them. I hate that they are experiencing the joy I can't. I avoid eye contact at all costs, thinking they don't understand, they don't get me and we are not connected. I miss that connection. I also used to love getting asked about my pregnancy and now I hate it. My eyes don't light up when asked, if anything they dim in fear of the "is this your first" question also I automatically assume they think I don't want this baby when I don't gush over the me people wanting this baby doesn't even begin to sum it!

Just when I think I have figured out all the things stillbirth has stolen from me, there is always something else. I knew this pregnancy would be hard, but to know it's almost over and I may not enjoy any of it...well the price I have payed to stillbirth just keeps increasing. This wasn't the life I planned to live, it's not fair and I hate it.

So that's what has been going on. I'm in search of the joy, hoping desperately to find it. I know I love this baby, I know the joy is there buried somewhere under the mounds of grief and fear. I just have to keep searching for it. I just hope I can find it sooner rather than later because I am tired of missing out.


  1. heart breaks for you, and yet I completely understand. I, too, wish you could share your whole heart at our meetings. I (and Paul, too, I think) want to hear these things, because we're trying to hard to conceive again. It's all relative to our lives, even though we're not there yet. I can understand, though, not wanting or feeling allowed to talk about it. That story really got to me, too. There's another BLM blog I read, can't remember whose, and she has talked about working really hard TO bond as best she can. That's what I want for me, but I'm not sure, once I'm pregnant again, how well that will go. I'm a terrible pessimist on my best days.

    We care about you both and are so grateful to have you in our lives. Truly, it would be a much different process for us if we hadn't found you so early in our grieving. Sending you, Brian, Addi and Mac big hugs today...

  2. I have no doubt you will get there...the fear will always remain, but you are slowly sorting things out from what I just read, and you are making progress (natural to be extra hard on yourself) and I believe you will find some joy, just not the same as before (which also took me awhile to accept).

    Your little boy knows how much love his mommy has for him and as you get farther along I believe it will all start to become clearer for you. Give yourself a are doing a wonderful job dealing with all the ups and downs of this crazy ride even if it doesn't feel that way!

  3. Ha, my post today is very similar. I am too scared to move. There is no way I can enjoy this pregnancy. I've got Jason worried and I'm actually worried about myself too. I knew this would be hard. Now I'm afraid the fear will also take over if/when this baby come home with us.

  4. Oh hun, I'm so sorry it's like this. It certainly shouldn't be. I'm glad you had the happiness that should accompany pregnancy with Addison. That's a special gift you had with her that you'll always be able to treasure.

    As for this pregnancy, I kind of believed in the fake it until you make it concept. I was terrified of losing Finn like we did Cale, but I knew that if we lost him, I'd want as much as I could to remember him by. So that meant taking lots of pictures and doing the things to prepare for him just as you do any baby. Maybe that might help you get more excited. It's scary, but maybe go out and buy some cute baby boy clothes, decorate the nursery, get a 3D ultrasound, do a belly cast or get some cute maternity clothes, etc. Do all the things you can do to enjoy a pregnancy and see if they do actually help you enjoy it. It might not - but in the process you will be creating memories of your time with your little guy (hopefully the first of many) and I doubt you'll ever regret that. Even if it was hard to do them, you won't regret doing them.

    Hang in there.

  5. I was afraid of talking about my pregnancy but knew I couldn't hide it forever, plus this pregnancy is very much so related to my grief so I had a talk with my group leader about bringing it up because I didn't want to hurt anyone who was new to the group and make them listen to my paranoia about this pregnancy. She felt that it was okay to talk about it with the group because they do go hand in hand, but I pay attention at group to when it seems like the right time to mention anything. If the only people there are the ones that have known me and my situation for many, many months I share about it and if there is new people especially with very recent losses I keep my mouth shut. Not sure if your group is all child loss or anyone with any kind of loss. Maybe its been okay with my group because all of us that have lost our babies know that we are all going to be trying again and need that support from one another.

    I feel like I am finally really excited about this pregnany but I still hate other pregnant women. Mainly because I hate that they appear happy and carefree and I still have all these worries. Also that I don't to have an awkward pregnancy converstation. I don't think it means you care any less.
    I think because of that though its hard to find the joy but I am trying with things like buying stuff, making a registry, talking to her everyday, and enjoying the kicks as they grow stronger and stronger.

    Hope things get better for you.

  6. It's so hard to believe that it could all work out, so it's hard to be excited about it sometimes, you know? I have only just started to get really excited about this baby, and I think it's because it's starting to feel more real... Like she might really be ours to keep...

    It's terrifying to open your heart again, but it's hard because not to love, because everything you said about it hurting even if you pretend not to care about this baby.

  7. Oh goodness...this post sounds like I could have written it during my second pregnancy. I had such a hard time bonding with Addalee, for quite some time. Like you did, I did the Q&A on holding back my feelings and hurting less if the worst happened again. Eventually, one day, it just kind of turned on. In that moment, I felt it...finally. I think that Caroline had some really good suggestions. It's important to make those memories, and the rest will fall into place, I believe.

    On the group meetings - I was attending a loss support group during my pregnancy with Addalee. I walked into one meeting, when I was about 7 months pregnant, and saw a couple's faces fall. It felt like a kick in the neck for all of us, I think. I ended up sharing my story, though and they lightened up. I think they saw my pregnancy as a sign of hope after they knew where we had come from. It's just so hard to handle those things gracefully...maybe talk to the leader, and just try to feel out the others in the group during the meeting. You'll know if the time is right to discuss your situation.

    You're doing great. Proud of you, friend!

  8. OH MY GOD! I just want to hug you and talk to you about this! This was SUCH a big thing for me when I was pregnant with Emily. And we stopped going to support group for this very reason. I felt so alone and in the end I saw no other option than to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I so know what you are feeling and it is 100% NORMAL. And even having you share your thoughts on it just validates the way I felt so much more for me. You will connect to this baby but it is totally different. There's really no way to describe it. I never fully connected to Emily until I saw her and held her. There's just nothing you can do about it until then. Enjoy what your heart will allow but don't feel guilty. I accepted that it was a part of my new normal to feel that way in subsequent pregnancy. Losing a baby changes everything about pregnancy. Everything you've described, right down to hating being asked, "Is it your first", I can relate SO MUCH!

  9. Be gentle with yourself - you are doing an amazing job under the circumstances.

  10. I met a new coworker the other day. She asked me if I had kids, and I just said "Not yet." I didn't tell her I was pregnant (I'm still hiding the belly with scarves and baggy sweaters), but I didn't mention Eliza either. I've felt sad about it all week.

    I love the name Mason, and I think it's perfect with Addison. Mac is also adorable for a nickname.

    I know the facebook post must have been hard. We just told David's family this week. He told them on the phone and I only talked to his mom (who acknowledges and talks about Eliza, unlike the rest of his family). I'm not ready for their joy. I just miss her so much. As thrilled as I am to be pregnant, it doesn't change how much I want Eliza back. So I guess I'm just saying you're not alone in this mess.

  11. It's so hard. I had a complete melt down in my OB's office around 20 weeks with Mason and she spent about 15 minutes talking me down. At this point Nygel and I had barely told anyone we were expecting again.

    One of her points that really stuck with me was that I didn't want to look back and realize I never enjoyed my pregnancy because of fear. The special time I had with him while he grew inside me was only for a little while. She said that we needed to talk about him because he WAS and he was doing so well. And it made complete sense what she was saying. But that doesn't mean it was easy to do.

    I did a little at a time. Baby steps. One day at a time.

    I worked on his nursery a little, signed up for baby CPR class, bought him some outfits that were his, took maternity pictures, and I started to talk about him more. The day she told us we needed to tell more people we both finally broke down and told some of our close friends and it was a great feeling.

    I say do what you can when you can. It will come to you with time. The joy is there but it's covered by so many other emotions which makes complete sense considering all you've been through. Thinking of you....xoxo