Too bad June is definitely no longer potty trained, Evan is back to his belligerent attitude with the added bonus of violence (tonight he gave June a nosebleed by swinging a book at her face), and we have too much stuff, making our house a mess in every sense. I’m a mess, too. It’s extra hard to deal with little kids when I just want to continue a cycle of cry-sleep-cry. Send help before we finish our descent into total chaos!
I know there are a lot of new people reading the blog, so I thought I’d give you a chance to ask any questions you have about Christian or the delivery or how we made arrangements – anything you might be wondering about, including how I’m coping (or not coping). Even if you’re a total stranger, go ahead. Any question is fair game as long as it’s respectful (so nothing like “How dare you [fill in the blank]?”), and I’ll reply to your questions in the comments. I may also do a separate post with the questions and answers, if I feel like it.
I’m happy to say that the past few days have been incomparably better than Friday was. I expected Mother’s Day to be hard, and it was sad to have that particular reminder of my lost child, but we took flowers to Christian’s grave and I didn’t struggle with emotion while we were there. I was glad to be able to visit (it was my first time back since the burial), and I felt comforted knowing we can go back often. I also started keeping a journal of letters to Christian, which I think will be helpful for me to express my thoughts and feelings a little more intimately than I do here.
We were also able to pick up the pictures from Christian’s birth. Just days ago I think they would have been too hard for me to look at, but because of how much better I’ve felt, I really enjoyed getting them. These were taken by Heather Ellis, who worked with us as part of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
I don’t think I knew what grief was until today. I’m not sure what changed; maybe it was reading last night about a mom who just lost her baby, maybe it’s the shock of the past few weeks wearing off, maybe it’s hormone readjustment. Whatever it was, today has been painful. Compared to what I’ve experienced in the past two months, this hurt more than anything else. I had no clue this was coming or was even possible – how could I possibly feel worse than I did when I found out my baby would die, or than when he actually did?
One thing I’ve been grateful for is that I haven’t felt much anger. I know it’s a common part of grieving but it’s been nice feeling like everything went well as it could have, I wasn’t angry at God for the way things turned out, I didn’t have many regrets. Today I woke up feeling resentful, toward almost everyone and everything.
My sister-in-law and brother-in-law sent us a package with a book on grief that I picked up tonight, after hours of crying in agony. I was relieved to read from other parents who’d lost their baby that it’s normal to feel crazy, normal to be angry, normal to feel completely bewildered about how I feel, and that things will eventually get better. Someone described it as the emotional pain coming in slivers instead of in overwhelming waves. The book also talked about allowing yourself to grieve, and while I have tried to be honest in my recent posts, I’ve definitely toned my emotions down so as to not be too depressing or hopeless or heartbreaking.
I realized that I want to talk about this, I just don’t know how. If I’m crying I want to be alone, and if I’m with people, I can talk unemotionally – there’s no overlap where I cry in front of people and actually communicate how hard of a time I’m having. Writing, though, I can handle that.
So I made this list while I cried tonight of things I don’t want to say or feel. I’d like to think that “My baby just died” gives me license to be brutally honest, but let me also point out that because I’m grieving, and going through normal postpartum emotional wackiness, my feelings are not all rational. I acknowledge that. There’s my disclaimer that you should not be offended by anything on this list. Look for a post early next week that is much less self-centered and much more grateful. Disclaimer enough?
I don’t want to say these things or feel this way:
I wish I had been the one holding Christian when he died, not my father-in-law.
I wish everyone [my parents and in-laws] did not have their cameras out at the hospital. It seems selfish of them. I got a real photographer so I could have nice pictures, not so everyone could take blurry iPhone pictures.
I wish I’d had time alone with me and Jarom and Christian before Christian died. I couldn’t talk to Christian, I never said anything to him. At all. I never kissed him and I regret it. I didn’t tell him anything.
I wish I had gotten more sleep or been able to eat. I had nothing left to give by the time Christian was born and I feel like I let him down by not being more present.
I wish other people didn’t say that this was their loss too. It’s mine. I was pregnant, I felt Christian move, I had to deliver him, I had to deal with the physical pain of recovery, I made almost all the arrangements.
I wish I didn’t feel so resentful.
I wish my sister-in-law had been able to come to the burial.
I wish I’d hugged Christian tightly. I was afraid of holding him close and then having to let go.
I wish I was brave enough to actually ask for help. I’m so broken, I can’t function, but I have it in my head that everyone else has gone back to normal life and I don’t want to remind them that my baby died. I’m realizing I need to talk but I don’t want to make other people sad. When I cry I am screaming inside, I can’t do this – I need help – I need help – help help help please. But how can anyone help?
I wish I didn’t know so many people who are expecting healthy babies.
I feel guilty for something wishing I’d never decided to have a third baby. Then I wouldn’t have had to bury a son.
I don’t want to die, I just want to have Christian. I don’t want to die because it means leaving Jarom and Evan and June. But then I’d be with Christian.
I wish I’d made sure the photographer got a picture of just me holding Christian. I wish I’d had her take one from my perspective looking down at him in my arms. I’m afraid I’ll only remember that day from someone else’s point of view.
I wish Evan and June understood that I can’t handle them right now. I wish I could handle them. I feel inferior for not being able to keep up.
I wish I’d brought flowers to the burial.
I wish I were still pregnant and trying to talk Jarom into whatever boy’s name I liked at the moment. I wish I were designing birth announcements and debating whether or not to get an epidural and complaining about swollen calves and wondering why on earth I ever wanted to be pregnant.
I wish I knew how to say all this out loud.
I wish Christian hadn’t died.
We took a childbirth class before we had Evan, and I’m positive they showed us how to swaddle a baby tightly in a blanket. But guess what? I am the worst at swaddling. Ever.
Really, Jarom has always been the one to swaddle our babies. By the time we got around to June, I had to buy one of those velcro swaddle-sack things, because I just couldn’t figure out how to [properly] swaddle her.
So in the hospital with Christian, they gave him to me with this nice ready-to-swaddle blanket . . . and Jarom and I laughed through our tears as I handed swaddling duty over yet again.
Some things never change.
This sucks. The end.