Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!
Okay, all you visual learners out there! This one's for you.
A couple of months ago, I went out for a drink with a momma - let's call her Susan - whose daughter had just been stillborn. Susan needed to talk to somebody who "gets it." And boy - if stillbirth isn't something I at least sort of "get" by now, well, I may as well throw in the towel and give up trying to understand anything in life.
We got connected through a variety of circumstances that aren't important. At the time, I was knocked up x3. I did not divulge to Susan my reasons for ordering a gin-and-tonic-without-the-gin, because I didn't feel it prudent or sensitive to tell this to a woman whose baby-loss was still so fresh and hurtful. Nobody needs that, thank you very much.
She talked, and I listened. I preferred it this way, because I'm generally bad at knowing what to say, even when it involves something that hits so close to my heart. It was surreal, hearing my former self reflected in Susan's words, recognizing her perception of reality as the EXACT WAY in which I saw the world during that dark and brutal time in my own life, just weeks and months after losing my son. Still in shock, hypersensitive to others' comments, crushingly disappointed. At one point, she asked me if I ever had trouble "feeling." She said she felt this strange sensation of numbness, and was waiting on edge for the inevitible tidalwave of emotion and sadness to hit. All I could do was just nod my head and mumble heartfelt-but-not-very-helpful responses, things like: "Yeah, I felt that, and still feel it sometimes. So yeah, you have lots of numbness to look forward to." or: "Yeah, your life pretty much sucks right now."
I'm sure those are the exact kind of uplifting things she needed to hear. See? I told you it was better to just kick back and listen.
During our conversation, and on the drive home, I had this sudden, strange image of myself being in a very different place than she. Her: just a few weeks after her loss. Me: about a year-and-a-half after mine, and knocked up again. It was one of those moments where you don't quite know where/how/who you are, until you see yourself juxtaposed against somebody else. Sitting across that table from Susan made me see how far I've come since 1.5 years ago. And I don't mean it in a bragging and obnoxious, "look how I have my shit together!" kind of way. It's more just a, "look how much my perception of reality has changed since then" kind of way.
This led to my newfound mental picture of what I call the Tunnel of Recovery, where KuKd mommas/daddas - and even our infertility-fighting counterparts - coexist.
It looks like this:
Way up front, in the closer (and therefore bigger-looking) part of the tunnel, is the event itself - the loss. The loss of a baby, of a fetus, of a vision of oneself as a parent at all. As time goes by, you start to heal, and you move along that pipeline - off into the distance. You're still there, in that same tunnel, and you can still communicate with people in different segments of that tunnel - just like Susan and I were conversing. It's just that your own segment - wherever in that tunnel you happen to be- looks and feels totally different from how it used to feel, back when you were in a different place.
(Being a classic visual learner, these are just the sorts of bizarre things that pop into my brain on long car rides, so just indulge me and roll with it, dawg)
I'd say that Susan was way up there toward the front, in that close-up part of the tunnel. As for me, well, I'm off in the distance, over that first little bunny hill you see in the picture, where the tunnel turns small and squiggly and faint. I'm not saying there's a light at the end of that tunnel, either, as in a definite way out of it for good. I gave up hope for that a long time ago, kids. It's just that time really is the thing that heals, pushing you along, up and over various obstacles, to where everything gets easier.
I should also point out this blog as a solid example. This blog was started...oh...almost a year after Zach's death, somewhere in the middle of that pipeline. There's no way I could have started it any sooner, found anything remotely interesting or tongue-n-cheeky to say about the death of a baby. No way, Jose. I was too busy looking down at my empty body, feeling pissed off at the world. It's taken lots of time and hindsight for me to get to where I am today, looking back, analyzing what happened, drawing out truths and laughs where I can see them. It's like picking up rocks in a forest, looking for cool bugs underneath them. Susan will get to that point too.
To finish up this bit of philosophizing, I leave you with one of the few pictures I have of myself when I was in Susan's place - WAAAAY up at that godawful front of the pipeline - a month or so after Zach's death. Acquiring Tebow the Westi-poodle was a very conscious and deliberate move - I needed something to mother, and damn it, I needed it NOW!! Kevin certainly wasn't going to argue.
God, I looked like crap back then - I probably hadn't showered in days when this picture was taken (why didn't anybody offer me a comb, at the very least?), and my smile the fake and brittle kind, because even though I liked this small furry mammal okay, he wasn't the real deal. Oh, and I was always wearing Kevin's sweatshirt, because it mercifully swallowed up my body and smelled like Kevin.