There are steps you have to take when you are grieving the loss of a child. Some of them you are sure you'll never be able to take. But then by some miracle you're nudged forward and you take them. Other times you take a giant leap with your eyes shut and your breath held...simply hoping for the best.
My friend, Dana, who is a regular reader and commenter here, is expecting her fourth baby here shortly. We're both regular posters on a mommy message board and have been together for literally years. She was my secret sister for a while too, so I feel like I know her a little better than a lot of the women on that board. We're different in almost every way...though she has taught me a thing or two about her way of life that I must admit to incorporating into my own life. She's a smart cookie and I truly do love her like a sister even though I've never met her or even spoken to her on the telephone.
So this leap...this forward step for me...
We have a tradition on our board when new babies are born...the new mom calls a "contact person" to let them know all the important details. I volunteered. And I'm excited about doing it. I hope I don't let her down and burst into tears the moment she calls me and I hear the joy in her voice.
It occurs to me that I've never been angry about others' pregnancies. I've been angry about their lack of empathy...angry about their inability to admit that things can go wrong...angry about the implied judgment that what happened to us was my fault...but never about the actual pregnancy part of it. I haven't been jealous really either. Just sad. Sad because it's not me (so maybe that is a form of jealousy). And I've been able to smile and be happy for them. For a while, the sadness outweighed the happiness and so it was easier to avoid the topic of pregnancy altogether. But now the happiness is just tinged with sadness...but the happiness outweighs the sadness (for today anyway).
I guess I'm not as broken as I thought I was.
You know, I was thinking the other day. One of the questions people always ask when they experience loss is, "When will I feel better?" The generic answer is, "It's different for everyone." But what I find more helpful is a concrete timeline. So if anyone reads this who might be looking for that kind of information I provide this...
I forced myself to go to work after three weeks. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I truly believe it started my progress forward. I hid a lot with my office door closed (which was ok, because it was still summer and the air conditioning was on...lol).
And then, one day, I didn't feel the need to close my office door. That was probably at about three months. I was ready to deal with other people again tentatively.
I had a slight setback when new mommy coworker came back to work. But at four months, I was functioning again. I was zombie-like, but I was functioning. I took my friend's advice and did a little bit here and a little bit there (at work and at home), and surprisingly, things got done. I have no idea how really, since I don't remember doing much of anything. I know I had clean clothes, but I don't remember actually washing them.
At six months, I felt happiness return to my life.
At eight months, I feel pretty good. I still have trouble concentrating for long periods of time. I'm very lucky I have a boss at work (and at home) who is understanding and willing to give me some room to maneuver my emotional state. I still have a hair trigger sense of anger and frustration. But I'm learning to cope with those things and work with them so I can "fix" them as well. And I'm contemplating my future...with eagerness and excitement instead of dread and sadness.
There are days that are harder than others...like holidays and special events where the hole is definitely more acutely felt. But those days pass and the overall healing continues.
So those are the small steps forward. This contact person thing...this is one of those leaps for me. I hope, hope, hope it takes me forward and not backward. I have a feeling it's going to be good...it already feels good.