My life right now:
I think this is actually a pretty great place to be at for the moment!
Although I felt miserable when I wrote my earlier post and was pitying myself a lot, the response I’ve gotten was not at all what I expected. People apologized – and now I feel guilty for making anyone feel bad.
Yes, it’s hard for me – sometimes – to not be asked how I’m doing or to see generous offers of help for other families who have obvious struggles. But most of the time, I feel pretty great. When those miserable moments come, I do get caught up in a negative mindset and it seems like the world is conspiring against me.
I’ve posted about things that are helpful and unhelpful to say to a grieving parent, and to me specifically. It was pointed out to me that this might suggest that there is a right way to help, and that you can mess up. No one wants to say the wrong thing, so people often stay silent.
Let me clarify: no matter how inadvertently insensitive your remarks might be, I will be so grateful that you said something. I understand that you mean well. Even if you say something horrible, I’ll be glad you said it. Really, truly. It hurts more to have this entire experience be unacknowledged.
Sometime between the ultrasound and Christian’s death, a woman in my ward stopped by to offer support and a small gift. I hadn’t ever met her before, and I appreciated her reaching out to me. I mentioned this in church recently and was surprised at the number of people who echoed, “I was thinking of you. I just didn’t know what to do or say.”
It was in this context specifically that I felt isolated. Because no one was sure what to do, it seemed like no one did anything. (Exaggeration. I had friends and ward members who were very involved and considerate.) And, to be fair, a large part of my misery may just be that I was not privy to the discussions of “How to help Mika” as I am to the discussions about helping other families. So what I perceive as a group effort and shared concern for others might have applied to me just as much.
Anyway. This is also a rambling, incoherent post.
To summarize: I didn’t mean to make anyone feel like they’ve been a bad friend. Sorry.
Also, saying something to me is always better than saying nothing. I promise.
Last night I went to bed at about 6:45. I’m not sure Jarom was exactly thrilled about it, but he did handle the kids alone and let me sleep. 13 hours of sleep? That’s a beautiful thing.
I’m still terrible at falling asleep at night (at a normal time). Naps are easy, as is staying asleep. It’s that whole relaxing business I can’t figure out after 7pm. I know, I’m weird.
This morning Evan is pretending to be a hot lava dog. He tells me I’m an ice dog and we’re enemies. Makes sense.
Guess what? Even though I had mentally composed yesterday’s blog post multiple times over the last week, once I actually sat down and wrote it, I felt better.
For me one of the important things is to write publicly. It makes me feel like I’m not just talking to myself and getting tangled up in my own crazy mind.
Speaking of writing, I read a new book almost every week in January, but now I’m out of good books. Suggestions?
January is my least favorite month. Every year it seems like January is hard for one reason or another. Last year I was pregnant – not sick, but exhausted – and Evan was finishing up his three-year-old mischief with enthusiasm, usually enlisting June (who was just barely 2) to help carry out his demonic plans. Last January was also when I realized my anxiety level was not normal and went to see a doctor about it. (Yay Zoloft!) I struggled with sleeping and with my mood.
For the past few months everything has been going so well. Better than I would have thought I could feel after Christian’s death – probably better than most people imagine they’d feel in the same situation. Up until about two weeks ago, I was coping well with life and being productive and keeping things running smoothly.
Who knows what changed? The prolonged inversion (thanks, Utah)? Seasonal affective disorder? A new year? The thought of possibly being pregnant later this year and the terror that will go with it? New babies and announced pregnancies all around me? Hormones? Or the dreaded no-reason-at-all?
Well, whatever it is, I’m miserable. I left church meetings twice yesterday to go cry. Every night for the past week I’ve spent at least an hour crying (usually after Jarom has gone to bed). I got yelled at by a neighbor a few days ago (for something that was completely my fault) and then cried while I made dinner. I feel absolutely awful. I want everything to stop existing.
To be fair, I don’t feel this lousy constantly. I do still get up and interact with the kids and sometimes even do housework. I visit friends and read books and crochet. Life does happen and I can wonder why I’m so emotional the other times.
Those other times, those moments of despair, end up with a thought pattern like this:
It feels like no one ever asks me how I’m doing anymore. No one cares that my baby died or seems to realize I might still need help, or even just need to be remembered. So many families around me are being showered with help and attention when their babies are having trouble – meals brought in and notes of encouragement and people asking how things are going. But even right after Christian died, I felt ignored. And now maybe more so.
Let me be clear, in the rational part of my mind I know I’m not really being ignored and I know it’s good for everyone, including me, to help others who are going through difficult times. Unfortunately, I can’t talk myself out of how I feel. I truly feel like because Christian’s death was an awkward topic for people, they avoided (and still avoid) bringing it up by asking how I am or if I need help. I missed out on a lot of the support I see others getting because no one knew how to deal with the death of an infant.
I realize this isn’t a very well-written or coherent post. It’s emotional. I also realize that there are plenty of exceptions to my “I feel ignored” sentiment – people who check in on my emotional well-being often or who send notes to let me know they’re thinking of me. It means a lot.
Part of what terrifies me about having another baby someday is the thought that everyone else will forget about Christian. That even in my family, no one will talk about him or acknowledge that he existed. Sometimes I already feel that way.
Emotions are dumb! And right now they’re making me miserable.
Here’s a summary of this week’s highlights:
- I had a fit of jealousy (well-contained, at least) over a yarn collection. And I learned I really love heather gray yarn and other neutral colors. Imagine pairing it with a neon pink trim for an ultra-trendy baby blanket…
- Car shopping is the worst.
- Using a slightly-not-navy yarn, I’m crocheting a basket to replace a hold-everything box in our black Expedit bookcase. Pretty soon I’ll run out of the blue yarn, so I plan to make it a colorblock basket and make the top half (or two-thirds ((is that hyphenated?)) ) cream or orange or something. Suggestions?
- Thursday night I hosted a Mary Kay party. It was almost like I had real friends! Plus, my living room got clean(er).
- While Evan is out on a date with his grandpa, June and I are chilling in the play area. I brought my crochet basket to work on because I’m that person now.
- I was digging through my stack of past projects – many incomplete – and found the birth announcement I started designing for June. It is incredible, and I’m going to work on it a little more next week. Should I make it solid text on a watercolor background, or watercolor text on a solid background? Or watercolor on watercolor? I’m not sure I’m that skilled yet.
- Oh yeah, and I made a bunch of cookies. I shared some so I’m positive I didn’t eat them all.
Feelings are dumb.
This week we’ve started looking for a replacement car, since my sweet-but-ugly Suzuki was totaled in November. I went with Jarom to a dealer on Tuesday. We liked the car we drove, but the dealer wasn’t willing to negotiate price, which was disappointing. On the way home the following feelings happened:
Sad. I really wanted that car!
Grouchy. Car dealer, you are dumb.
Frustrated. I hate car shopping. Jarom is now in charge of finding me a car.
Overwhelmed. Last year our car died and our baby died. Why can’t our lives be full of good things? Why do crappy things happen to us?
Bitter. It sucks that Christian died! It sucks a lot! It’s so stupid!
Sad. My baby died. It’s so sad.
Despair. I just want to eat cookies and cry instead of making dinner. But I also don’t want to be lumpy-shaped and my clothes don’t fit and it’s just not fair that Christian died AND I gained a bunch of weight.
It was not a fun drive home. Yeah, I cried. No, it wasn’t really about the car. Thankfully, Jarom is patient and understanding and nice – and he knows when I just want to be left alone with my misery. Eventually I came out of it (though I didn’t end up eating cookies or making dinner), and stopped having those feelings.
Because feelings are dumb.