What it Takes
What would it take? So far I have kept my grief writing separate from my regular blogging. Today I am going to try something different and intermingle the two.
Four weeks. Four weeks ago today I learned that Iris was gone. I remember my fear headed into the appointment, the fear that I had tried to convince myself was unjustified. And then later that afternoon, sitting on the edge of the hospital bed after I had been checked in, staring out the window in shock that I was going to have to live through that nightmare of delivery again. The first nurse was not as welcoming the second time. No speeches on loss or the hospital’s services. Maybe it was because I was 16 weeks instead of 21 weeks – medically distinct. Maybe because she had seen my chart and knew that this was my second trip into hell. Maybe it was her personality. I really didn’t care. I sat, still staring blankly, as vials and vials of blood were pumped from my body in attempts to get some answers. All futile efforts.
The induction medication. The epidural. My water breaking. Knowing that she had been born. The low murmurs as I squeezed my eyes tight, not wanting to see. And she was taken away.
I have not been able to cry much lately. I spent weeks crying myself to sleep every night after losing Nelle. I have no tears left at night. But when I think too hard, when I cannot escape the images in my head of the appointment and the hospital, then a solitary tear might slip down my cheek.
Or I should say – I have not been able to mourn. I cried in September because I missed Nelle so much and achingly wanted her back. Now I cry for plenty of other reasons. But not in mourning. I cry in helplessness. Confusion. Anger. It is such an extension of my loss in September that it hardly feels like a separate event. I feel guilty for not mourning Iris more, for her separate, tiny life of 16 weeks. For almost always collectively referring to the losses together. For being more haunted by the memories of losing Iris because it was more recent.
I was restless last night. Usually I can fall asleep, no problem (thanks, Benadryl) but can’t stay asleep. Last night, I couldn’t even fall asleep. I’ve been re-reading what I’ve written, almost like a compulsion, as if I somehow find comfort in my own words. You would think I would be exhausted after juggling work and a sick child, who has Influenza A as it turns out.
Tomorrow is my post-delivery follow-up. How cruel to call the appointment that – post-delivery, but I have no baby. They should come up with some euphemism for it. Since I could not sleep, I made a list of questions for the doctor. At my follow-up in September, I just sat there and quickly responded to anything asked of me, wanting nothing more than to leave as quickly as possible. I only had one question back then: “Why did this happen?” This time, I have a list of questions.
Once I am medically cleared to exercise, I hope to give Bikram yoga a try. Detoxifying my body sounds really good right now. The last yoga class I attended was prenatal yoga.
On Timehop today I saw a photo that reminded me of another photo: the photo I took the morning I found out that Nelle was gone. I often stare at that photo thinking “I didn’t know. I had no fucking clue.” I have a photo from the morning that I learned that Iris was gone too. In both instances, the day that we found out that our baby was gone, but the day before they were born since labor took so long. Hours before, and thousands of life “lessons” unknown.
|September 3, 2015 with the caption “My coffee minion.”|
|February 12, 2016, with the caption “Kitty kisses.”|
Someone recently told me that my writing about grief is brave. I’m not brave. I’m broken and terrified and clinging onto something that gives me a tiny bit of reprieve.
What would it take? I think I am finding it. It is using words to express how I am feeling. It is not holding back and pouring all of the emotions, internal debates, and silent screams into combinations of twenty-six letters. It is capturing the experience, including the pain, in a way that allows me to sort through it and make sense of it, even when there is no sense to be had. It is opening myself up and not caring that my small universe sees how much I am hurting, or when I am falling apart, or when I contemplate pulling myself back together.
“… As we breathed into the truth of what had happened in our lives, safe in the protective community we built together, we began to discover that the unbearable became bearable, that by whispering “yes” instead of screaming “no,” an ineffable grace began to fill the space of our shattered hearts. Soon , not only could we carry our own impossible grief, but from there it was a small move to take in the pain of the whole world, and offer our most tender prayer of grace.
Try it. If you’ve tried it before, try it again. Find the smoldering ache of loss inside of you and soften into it. Allow yourself to gently and lovingly explore exactly what it feels like to hurt in this way. With compassion for yourself, disarm your wounded heart and breathe quietly inside the wreckage. No need for fancy formulas or prescribed affirmations. No goal. Just be. Inside the fire of grief. One breath in front of the other.” -Mirabai Starr