Grieving During the Holidays Part 2: Mourn-cation in Montréal

As I mentioned before, we lost our daughter three weeks ago. My worried family members in Ohio wanted to know if we would still visit for Thanksgiving. Instead we decided to travel. Why? No one knows what to say or how to act around us right now. To be fair, I don’t think we know either. Only my partner understands how a moment of laughter can turn into a moment of mourning and tears. Only I can understand how a moment of silence causes his hurt and pain to boil to the surface. As much as we both want to put on a sad yet fierce united front, we are incredibly vulnerable.

Neither one of us feels like playing strong to make other people comfortable. Neither one  of us wants to take on other people’s problems when right now we have enough of our own.

I’m realizing this isn’t selfish. This is part of our healing process.

And so equipped with our little girl’s blanket, we crossed the border to Montréal where we will stay for five days. For me it helps to have a few days where I don’t have to see the hospital where I gave birth to Marième. I’m sure it helps my partner, too.

I told my family we were going on vacation but in reality it’s more like a ‘mourn’-cation. Either way, I’m trying to keep everything in perspective. At least I have my partner (who is also the best travel buddy a gal can have) and the rest of my family is in good health for the most part. I am hopeful that our stay will help a little.

Grieving during the holidays part 1

Another week is upon us and it has been rough. We have had our share of emotional moments. Yesterday, I was seriously just angry with everyone because it just felt like no one gets it. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t want anyone to experience this kind of emotional turmoil but I must say it’s hard to accept someone’s, “aww” kind of comments when you are in the midst of a breakdown.

One of my sisters who I have a somewhat chaotic relationship with contacted me through text message. Out of nowhere she mentioned the way that my mother delivered me while making a point about something completely unrelated. Needless to say, I was quite angry. Does she not realize that me, a woman who just gave birth to a child born sleeping does NOT want to hear about birth stories of another child? Even if that child was me. She can be so incredibly disconnected from reality and selfish that I don’t even understand why she bothered contacting me. Nowhere in the conversation did she address her grief. It was all about her which really sucked.

On a positive note, my cousin realized (thanks to my Auntie) that being emotionally distant during this time is not only rude but extremely hurtful. Especially since we are supposed to be close. I know that nothing changes overnight but I really appreciated her apology. People don’t realize how difficult yet necessary genuine apologies can be. My mother was not big on recognizing her faults but ironically she was the one that taught me the importance of saying, “I’m sorry.” No one is perfect and I need to be able to extend the same kind of compassion and forgiveness that I would like to receive.

Anyways, I have focused a lot of my energy this week on completing assignments for my graduate courses. Ah the end of a semester is cuh-razy! but completing some of it will be worth it because…we’re going to Montreal this coming week. At first we were going to stay in the house with the lights off like we have been doing but we both decided it’s time to try to break away.Due to our present circumstances it’s a bit difficult to imagine visiting family (who reside in a different state) during the holidays which should be a happy occasion. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been such a happy couple of months for us but that’s why we just need to be alone for a bit. We really need to experience different surroundings because goodness it’s been rough. But the struggle continues…

Day 11: A Glimpse of Grief

The hardest part I know/ Is giving up a little bit of control….

I keep lying to myself/ I don’t need nobody else/ But I do/ I need you

“Hardest Part” —Laura Welsh

Last night was rough. I praised myself on making it through the day with very few tears and a positive disposition but by bedtime I knew it was all a performance. It’s been eleven days since I gave birth to our Marième at 25 weeks. I’m still not ready to share her full birth story but I hope one day that I will find the strength to talk about her.

Honestly, it feels like I’ve been living through a nightmare. Everyday I wake up expecting to feel a heavy bladder and my baby dancing away telling me to use the bathroom and feed her. I still imagine my partner returning home from work and kissing her as she kicks away. She definitely was a daddy’s girl and perhaps that’s what scares me.

I remember the way that he held and stared at her in the hospital. It was the moment I longed for but just not under those circumstances. I always knew that he would make a great father but seeing him in action broke my heart. I feel like I robbed him of the chance to watch her grow and become whoever she was going to be. Everyone says that its not my fault, that cord accidents happen all the time and that there was nothing I did wrong but I still can’t help but feel like I had one job and I failed. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I decided to opt out of pain medication even when they offered it to me. I had always planned to give birth to her naturally but once we learned the news that her little heart stopped beating, I think the midwife and nurse expected me to just go for medication.

I wanted her to have a dignified birth. The same one that I planned minus the fact that we would never hear her cry. Originally, I wanted to do what I thought was best for my baby and for the “easiest” recovery but once I learned her condition I decided that I needed to endure the pain for another reason: I needed to feel the pain of childbirth because it was my fault.

I remember I read a few months ago that most women seem to forget the worst parts of childbirth thus the reason why they can continue to have more children. It’s bizarre because I would have to agree. I remember moments of physical pain but not in a way where I can relive that. Maybe it’s because I’m in more emotional pain that I would like to admit.  Maybe it’s because I feel like a part of me is gone and I will never be able to recapture it.

We opted to not have an autopsy performed. We simply couldn’t imagine allowing someone dissecting our little girl especially since the midwives were quite sure that she passed because the cord (it was kind of short) was wound so tightly around her little legs. She was so active inside of me that it makes sense that she somehow tangled herself up.

I want to get through this but I don’t want to forget her. I don’t want her to think that I didn’t love her. That we didn’t love her. Or that she is replaceable. Although my test results say that there is nothing physically wrong with me, I can’t help but feel like there has to be some other reason. Maybe I’m not worthy enough of experiencing the joys of parenthood. I don’t know. Which makes me angry because then I remember that there are serial killers and other people who do/have done cruel things that are not denied this life-altering experience. Then I think about my partner and I. We’re just ‘normal’ people. So why us?

And now I have what someone might consider irrational worries. What if he decides to leave me in a few years when he wants to have children? He keeps saying that there is nothing physically wrong with us so there shouldn’t be a problem but I don’t think he understands. Maybe I’m so emotionally broken that there is no chance for me to go down that road again. Maybe I just don’t have the mental strength. What if it happens again?

I know I’m impatient but I just need this to be over. I’m depressed, angry, frustrated, and honestly I’m not okay. Yeah, I said it. I put on this performance of good humor and being well-adjusted but I’m not. And I don’t know how to help him either. I feel like I’m failing him and myself. I just want to know: will we ever be okay again?