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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Relapsing

Greetings, KuKd/TTCers and Guests Alike!

There's something else that inward-sucking "hee-yoop" sound is, other than the insane suckosity of my cervix and the roar of an airplane toilet:




It's the sound of...drumroll please...taking a drag off some big'ol joint of negativity, sucking up that juicy awfulness until you're high. High on pain, that is.


Anyone can be a Pain-a-Holic. Just take any condition, any stressful event: diabetes. Food allergies. Death in the family. Loss of a job. Depression. Weight problems. Marriage problems. Money problems. Infertility. Baby loss. Now, think of someone you know who wears that condition like a comfy bathrobe: it comes up in every conversation. It colors everything they say or do or think. It prevents them from risking this or that, from feeling happy about whatever. It's like a friend to them, this ailment or event or condition, and anchors them to some rut in the ground, keeping them from drifting upward. They could let it go, but that's a scary prospect; think of the withdrawal symptoms that would invoke! No wonder they keep it around like an old annoying-but-loved friend.


Take it from me: once you get that first taste of aching awful pain, it's a hard habit to kick. After the stillbirth, I got used to that particular "condition" of being a dead-baby momma. It hung around, that smoky pain-smell saturating my clothes and hair and skin, and I clung to it like a raggity old comfy bathrobe. It protected me from a lot of things, giving me a gloriously rightful reason to burst into tears at odd times, and provided a safe excuse for avoiding dangerous situations. Six months, a year later: of course I couldn't be around babies, around pregnant women. Of course, of course, of course.


Then I started feeling insecure about my grief at one point, maybe a year or so after the Event, as though the real down-n-dirty shock and sadness had passed, and what was left was some kind of drugged-out, candy-coated, corrupt form of leftover backwash grief. Almost this fake, high-feeling, grief-like sensation that wasn't really grief, more just like I'd sniffed gasoline and was doing crazy things as a result. Like breaking down suddenly or snapping at Kevin and blaming it on the stillbirth. Always the stillbirth's fault. I was a classic Pain-a-holic.

In early spring this year, I started feeling...freed somehow, as though this vague weight was being lifted gradually off my shoulders. I began to notice that I wasn't really talking about dead babies anymore, or thinking about Zachary every hour like I used to. With a few exceptions, being around babies and knocked-up ladies didn't bother me anymore, for the most part.

(For the record, I credit this "recovery," I guess, to the simple passage of time, for it certainly had nothing to do with anything I was doing. I was never one to actually work on healing or recovering, or even grieving properly. I just took hits blindly and emoted haphazzardly, skipped the support groups and books and yoga and what-nots, drank a shit-ton of coffee and beer, and hoped for the best.)

So yeah, time was what it took. I felt I had sobered up.


* * *


These past few weeks, I've felt like I'm relapsing. It's coming back, creepy crawly stillbirth-momma-condition clinging to me, like an old drug buddy just offered me a bong hit "just for the fun of it" and I said what the hell. Now it's back - that pain-high. It's the pregnancy that does it, I'm pretty sure, for that's the only variable that's really changed as of late.

Here was my first clue: a buddy at work whose wife is 12 weeks pregnant e-mailed to see if Kev and I had talked about baby names yet. I could've just said "no" like a normal, sober, clear-minded human being. But I just had to gussy up my reply with more dramatic than that, something like this:

"No, we haven't started thinking about names, since this is our fourth pregnancy. There's a 50% chance this won't work out anyway since it's a boy, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping a living baby will come out of it. Then we'll name him."


Immediately after hitting "send," I felt bad. I wished I could have taken it back. It was like this old-me coming through all of a sudden, the gloom-n-doom me who was high on pain for a year-and-a-half, dredging it up and wearing it boldly, daring anyone to challenge it.

Why couldn't I give this guy just a simple, friendly response without bringing up that whole bitter truth? Why not just let him have his innocent and happy little e-mail exchange with a fellow expecting parent? What was I hoping for - some kind of sympathetic response? I felt like one of those people I've always been afraid to become: putting it out there all the time - I'M A DEAD-BABY MOMMA AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! - to the point where the world grows tired of the subject, and, even worse, to the point where I'm really just clinging to this pain-crutch as an excuse to not engage in normal discourse with another human.

Here's where I was hoping all of that old emotion would go, once I started feeling something toward this current pregnancy other than "oh fuck:"




Yup, shed to the floor like a snake skin. What I want to be is this: an innocent, perky, fresh-faced, fresh-minded knocked-up gal whose eyes light up at Motherhood Maternity, who can in fact indulge the pesky cashier with personal information and due dates without becoming a hypersensitive bitch from hell, who can eagerly engage in e-mail conversations with other expecting parents about car seats and slings other baby-related crap. I was that preggo person once, way back when.

But now, the old sludge follows me around and I can't seem to shake it: a darkened arc of anxiety rising up sometimes, eclipsing the turquoise arc of happy hopefulness that comes when I feel little fetal feet fluttering against my insides. There IS that 50% risk thing for this boy fetus, too dreadful and incomprensible for my own mind to process, and best saved for another post when I'm really on a pain-high.

For now, I'm going to focus on being a normal, sober person with a naked, hopeful heart.

And cheeseburgers. I'm focusing on cheeseburgers.

19 comments:

Pundelina said...

Oh Mon, I want to reach through the screen and stretch my sooper-long stretchy arms a kazillion kilometres over to you and hug you hard.

(((hugssss)))

Sharon said...

Hey Mon!
You don't think it a little bit of fear of what has gone before that's causing this??? Like you're looking for reassurance somehow now that you find yourself in this terrifying situation?
I know I'm EXACTLY the same, since finding out I'm pregnant yesterday, I feel the need to get validation from every source possible that what happened before will not happen again?
Its all so bluddy complex!

Hope's Mama said...

Yep, I get this. Posted on something similar myself yesterday. Although never as witty as you!

Anna said...

Ummm, cheeseburgers! I would kill for Kidd Valley right now. But then, I've had a few. It sounds trite, but I think just the fact that you can see the sludge is to your benefit. Thinking of you-

*~*Lis*~* said...

I think there was a post a while back that led me to this same comment:
It's probably not going to change.

I know that's not what you want to hear, but hey we're all about honesty around here right?

I had 3 KD's before having my oldest - and the whole time I was terrified - and I didn't even have a reason to be really. My KD's were early miscarriages so once I got over that "hump" I should have been fine - but I wasn't. I had e-mail's written in my head to send to people when the bad came.

It never did and now I've got an almost 3 1/2 year old that drives me nuts, and two almost 2 year olds that do also.

I hope you can have a fun easy going pregnancy and enjoy going into MotherWhore - but if you can't it's OK and pretty normal (I think!)

Brenna said...

I recently had one of those questionable e-mail moments with a colleage, too. Innocent young guy e-mails his congratulations and asks whether this baby is my first, and I tell him we had triplets who were born prematurely last year. Why? Why is it so hard to just say "yes" or "no" to the "is this your first" question--I know that not everyone needs to hear this story.

Personally, I'm glad you're not *that* pregnant person...the perky, oblivious one. I'm not so sure I'd inhale your blog quite so much (hee-yoop!) if that were the case.

Lani said...

its gotta be natural for all of it to come back full force. its scary. you know how it all went down 3x before.

at least you are aware of it monica- most others who wallow in their own unhappiness and carry around their baggage for the world to see, have no clue they are doing that. you know it and can control it. and if you need to feel it, then do it.

be careful with those cheeseburgers though- did you read last sunday's new york times?

Karen said...

What a great post. My brain is in overdrive trying to process all your thoughts. I'm in the having to tell everyone about our dead baby phase and wondering if I'm completely bonkers. Thinking of you and sending you all good thoughts. I guess it's one day at a time for us babyloss-pain-mummas, too. (((Hugs)))

Being Me said...

Marvellous and eloquent. I know EXACTLY what you're saying. It's my cloak. And I have every right to whip it out and... well, not do magic tricks with it, because it's not that sort of cloak. But it envelopes me some days still, almost 6 years after losing our 4wk-old.

And the nature of my husband's genetic carrier condition renders me a basket case each time I fall pg. 12 times now. And just one child at home. Huzzah for us! And that's not even to mention the "onward and upward" types who continue to this day to avoid uttering our oldest daughter's name. Fortunately for us, her little, thriving, healthy 3yo sister knows her name and bandies it around and says she has a "sister" quite often. If that won't crack the hardened shell of the others too scared to mention their lost family member's name.... well, nothing I do will.

Good luck. You write so brilliantly, I'm so pleased you share the way you do.

Michelle said...

STATED SO BEAUTIFULLY!I think it is completely normal. I wish it could be different, that somehow you (we) could just forget and be those perky, happy pregnant women but sadly I do not think it can happen. I always tell people they are going to have to knock me out for 9 months because I am going to be a crazy person.

Sending you much love and lots of hugs!

Cara said...

Monica - As usual, every word hits home. I worry that people think I wear Emma's death / memory as a badge of some sort. I mean, now that it is couched in the 'do good actions' of the non-profit it makes it sound more meaningful, purposeful - you know? But still, it is what it is and I wouldn't be out there hitting the pavement to solicit goodies for a raffle that dead-baby parents will participate if I didn't have a dead-baby button of my own.

*sigh* I only know that I feel the same kind of maternal responsibility to Emma that I do to Claire and Caroline. And, since she does not require me to get up with her at two in the morning to discuss the red itchy spot on her back, or splutter aimlessly at the bank teller after not recieving a sticker, I find great satisfaction in doing SOMETHING in her memory.

kari said...

Would you really want to be like those happy chicks at Motherhood Maternity? Anyway, it's not gonna happen. I refused to believe my subsequent kid was going to be born alive after my DB. And I refused to let other people talk about when-the-baby-gets-here, too. So it was a nice surprise when she was born alive.

KuKd Chick said...

"Be like those happy chicks at Motherhood Maternity?" Well, naw. It would be cool to act all giddy, though. Actually, yesterday I did feel "all giddy" for no real reason other than perhaps the single-shot latte with 5 packets of sugar that I indulged in. ;-)

Man, peeps. Once again, I feel relieved to konw that what I'm feeling is quote-unquote normal.

aliza said...

yes, you are 'normal' here monica. we all now live in this new normal babylost land...which seems to be a mix of everything, high and low, feeling better and then relapsing again...all of it.

xox

Parenthood For Me said...

I love the way you described your grief. the visual images you created really helped to make me understand. You've been through too much to be blase. Some people need to try and understand that their carefree pregnancy is not like that for many others. Wishing you well.

m said...

Mon, so much to say here, but as always, your posts leave me thinking, and unsure where to start, other than shouting, "YES! YES. I SO get it."

There's no baby in my belly yet, no reason to be hopeful for the future (yet? please be yet) but after a few decent months, I'm feeling that familiar suck again.

So I can't really say if your response to your co-worker was all that bad. Is it really terrible to let him know that sunny optimism doesn't always come as part of the pregnancy package like those freebies of formula at the doctor's office? I think no.

Rebecca said...

Hmmm. Is it wrong to tell people that the real world is not always as sunny as it seems?

I guess it is, since everyone will eventually discover it for themselves in some way. But on the other hand, I know I have been insensitive to other people's realities in the past, and when I've figured that out, I always wish I would have realized it sooner.

So I guess I am on the fence as to whether the pat "yes" or "no" response is the right one, or whether the right response is to be honest, open up and share a little bit of our own reality with someone else.

Otherwise isn't the world just a shallow place where no real connections are ever made?

I'm not really sure which is the right answer - I can convince myself of either one, all within the space of 1 minute.

Emily said...

This is an old post so noone is likely to see this comment, but I am so in this place today. And I've had so many days like this since I lost my baby in February. Most of the time I go around, giving the happy responses I'm supposed to, but I have this lovely, bitter-ironic-snarley voice inside of me saying what I'd really like to say. Which, in it's dark way makes me smile...which goes great with the supposed-to-be-fine comment I made out loud. So it all works out I guess.

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