The Seventh Month

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

I can't get my thoughts straight. I am in such a weird place lately. I am either really sad and tearful or really angry or joking, but the joking has a very angry undertone.

Sunday, March 9, 2003

I have had some strong feelings recently, mainly regrets about things I didn't do. Like I didn't sing to Abigail or play music - I have no idea why not - it was clear she knew my voice and responded to sounds and music on the TV. There was one song that I used to play in the car on the way to work and sing with and she would always start kicking for that song - probably trying to tell me to shut up!  I wish so badly I had played it and sung it when she was here. And I came across a few photos that we got too close on and they were blurry so I had put them aside and forgotten about them. One had her eyes wide open and one had her hand holding my thumb. I wish so badly we had gotten good shots - and now we can't go back and I can hardly stand to think about it. And the feelings are so strong that I almost get hysterical thinking about them. It's like they are beyond crying.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

I've been back to work for 4 months and I only recently feel like I'm actually earning my pay. I also realized that there are really very few times at work when I truly *have* to hold it together. If I need to fall apart, I can (and do). And that takes a lot of pressure off, and letting it be ok (with me) to fall apart makes it a lot easier, too.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I find that I am feeling very angry lately. Angry that babies have to die, that I have to feel so crappy, just angry in general. I'm not a grump all the time, but I'm no prize lately, either. I think I'm just getting worn down from missing Abigail for so long. I just feel so tired and I don't want to sit down and pull my thoughts together.

Several people at work mentioned to me that they knew I had just had a six-month "anniversary" and that they were thinking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. I think one thing that is bugging me though is that my best friend at work, C. is expecting a baby any day now. It's her first, and of course she's all excited. And I am trying to be for her, too, and I even am sometimes. But the closer it gets, the more down I get. To top it all off, I will be covering for her at work while she's off taking care of her baby. She's having a boy, which will be a little easier for me, I think.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I ended up being really weepy on Friday (so much for being productive). I had lunch with R. Thursday and it was so helpful. I don't know how long it has been since someone asked me a question about Abigail and I got to talk about her, not just how I'm feeling, etc. Just because there's nothing new to tell doesn't mean I don't want to tell it. I really miss talking about her.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Why is it so hard to go to social events? I go to church with the same people several times each week and I usually do ok. But when we have a covered dish I can't handle it. Is it because there are visitors and we always start talking about our families? The biggest thing in my life is that Abigail died, and I want to talk about her. But I dread seeing the look on their faces and their discomfort if I bring her up. So I don't, but then I just want to scream, "Stop talking about this trivia; LET'S TALK ABOUT ABIGAIL!" I don't think there is an answer other than just time. Maybe someday I won't feel so compelled to talk about her and I'll be more comfortable talking about other things. Until then, it seems that I just need to avoid these situations. I guess I'm just not ready.

It's so easy for men. Steve was talking with the visiting preacher and telling him about our kids as I walked up. He can mention Nathan and Sarah and not mention Abigail without a second thought. To me, that is a glaring omission that bothers me more and more as the minutes pass until I can't stand it.

At yesterdayís lunch I went outside and tried to pull myself together and prayed. It is such a simple thing, really, just lunch. But it is an ordeal to me. Why do I feel I need to put myself through it? After a few minutes, K. came out to see how I was doing. And I just started crying and crying. I told her I wanted to talk about Abigail. She asked me if I wanted to go to the cemetery and so she took me there.

When we got there, we stood there, and she said, "Tell me about Abigail. Tell me about her birth, and her time at home..." So I started talking, and crying. And I told her about the things I regretted, that are so hard to think about, like not singing to her and not being able to feed her. And how I cried when she sucked on my finger a while and that she would turn when you touched her cheek and start to root and how hard that is for me to remember. And I told her how she started to breathe all by herself, without any help. And I told her how she looked so good on the outside - even her hands weren't tightly clenched - but that all her problems were on the inside.

Soon two young women with 2 little children came by, but didn't come near. I realized they wanted to visit a grave near Abigail's but didn't want to intrude. Eventually they decided to leave, and they said they were sorry and one woman said, "I know how much it hurts" and got kind of emotional. I realized that my wound is so much fresher, and that even though it's been six months and I'm not at the beginning, the wound is still very raw and I am still relatively new at this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Yesterday I lost it. I have really been missing Abigail a lot over the past few days and have been on the verge of tears much of the time when I am not crying. A lot of things happened yesterday morning that required me to solve some problems. Not big problems; just things I deal with every day. But yesterday they were just too much. I guess I am really tapped out emotionally, so I just lost it. I couldn't deal with these problems. I wanted to throw and break things. I threw the phonebook, slammed the door, and picked up a chair and slammed it into the wall. The whole time I was screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs. Then I finally dissolved into hysterical tears. I'm glad everyone around was at lunch and didnít see it.

I decided to outside and take a walk. I walked and cried until I felt myself calming down. It was very strange: I could actually feel the calm coming over me. I was so much calmer when I got back. At that point, none of the things that had put me over the edge even seemed that big of a problem any more. I was so relaxed - I was just emotionally spent - if I had lain down I would have gone to sleep. It is amazing how I went through such extremes in such a short time. Grief is so strange. I hate this whole thing.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I have been feeling kind of a mean streak lately and when people give me the perfunctory, "Hi, how are you?" greeting, I have been responding with a hesitant, "OhhhKay." So all but the most clueless pick up on that and say, "you don't sound very convincing" or something to that effect. I found that if I say, "I'm having a rough time," they still dance around it, so now I have started telling them, "I've been missing Abigail a lot lately." And I don't care if they didn't want to go there with their little question, that's where I want to go! It has been emotional, but it has been so nice to just let people know and to mention Abigail. And many people really surprise me with their concern.

I think some of my mean streak is that I am feeling that we have enough on our plate with the grieving without also overlooking everyone else's ignorance, insensitivity and selfishness, too! Why can't we give them an honest response and have THEM overlook OUR outburst for a change?

I am just so tired of feeling like this, day after day: just marking time, going through the motions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

This has been such a hard time lately. Sunday I had a really hard day at church again. I really didnít want to talk to anyone after church. So I went outside and watched the kids play instead of chatting.

I get so angry that people seem to think if Iím down and sad that I need to get help to feel better. My daughter died; Iím supposed to be sad! And they dance around it, saying, ďyouíve been having a really rough time.Ē I get irritated and want to say, ďYes my baby died. Her name is Abigail.Ē I get angry that if I say that, I will hurt someoneís feelings. It is so hard to grieve properly so I donít hurt anyoneís feelings. I just want to let them hear how I really feel, but I donít want to burn any bridges.

I think C.ís getting near her due date is really weighing on my mind. Then on Monday, I was not in a very good mood to begin with and she came to the morning meeting and said, ďtodayís my last day. Iím being induced Wednesday.Ē It took everything in me not to burst into tears. I just leaned forward with my elbows on my knees and concentrated on my pen as if it were the most interesting thing in the world and I managed to hold it together until I got back to my office where I let it out. A little later I managed to go talk with her about what I need to cover while sheís gone, although I had to get up and walk out because it was too hard.

I didnít see her the rest of the day until she was leaving and she stopped for a hug. I was focusing on the computer and didnít realize who it was until she was right there. Once she walked out, I got upset again and slammed my hand into the credenza so hard it made my wrist hurt. Itís just so hard. I know sheís happy and excited and she should be. But it just hurts so bad to think about it. It just points out my loss and that I didnít get to have the same joy and excitement about Abigailís birth. There was definitely joy and excitement, but it was totally different. It just stinks.

So I am hoping that after she has the baby I will feel a little release emotionally and maybe feel a little better. This has been a lot of pressure on me. Today I just didnít really feel like working much. I imagine it will be that way most of this week. I took a long walk at lunch, but it didnít really help me feel better.

People just donít understand what this is like. I just want to avoid them unless they do. As I have been walking through town at lunch, I havenít been meeting anyoneís gaze or even saying hello to them, because I donít feel like smiling. Iím just too tired to fake it right now. It is just so hard to believe this really happened to me and that the reality that my friend is facing with her baby is not the one I faced. It is like a dream, a bad one.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

What a week this has been! She was supposed to be induced on Wednesday, but when I arrived there was an email that they had postponed it until Thursday. Wonderful. I had been feeling OK on the way in, but that just frustrated me.

Thursday I felt decent on the way to work, knowing I was going to be talking to a counselor around lunchtime and that I was going to be having dinner with T. Then I went to see the counselor. I felt pretty comfortable with her and after only a few minutes found out that she had also lost a baby! I canít imagine how I could find a better fit for a counselor: a ministerís wife who has also lost a baby.

So that afternoon I felt pretty good, and then dinner was good, too. We talked and laughed a lot. But she also observed, ďI can tell youíre having a hard time.Ē And gave me several hugs. I really appreciated that. Interestingly, though, I did not get that emotional that evening. I think I was just drained from the week so far. So when I got home, it was kind of late, but overall I felt pretty good. It was clearly the best day of my week, largely because I got to spend so much time in ďtherapyĒ, talking.

Friday turned out to be really hard. I hoped to find out about the baby to get it over with before the weekend, but no news when I arrived. And everyone kept asking me if I knew. I guess itís logical that they would ask me since we obviously are close, but they donít realize how hard it has gotten for me the last week or so. I also had gone online into my health insurance to check something out. And once I got logged in, it asked me to either confirm or update my dependents for their records. It listed Abigail with my other kids, and I wasnít expecting to be asked this so it really threw me. I just couldnít take her off, but I didnít feel right about confirming either. I was kind of hoping not to be asked so I could just let it ride. The decision actually paralyzed me for a little while. After a lot of tears, I finally decided that I just was not in any state to remove her right now, and so I confirmed it. It wonít really make a difference to them since I wonít be filing any claims for her, but I just couldnít remove her yet.

After finding out that she had the baby that morning, I had a couple of other things that ďrocked the boatĒ. I was so close to the edge already that I just started to cry. I just couldnít deal with this right then. I could feel myself losing control, so I called several friends. None were home. But I knew I was losing it and I was trying to find someone to talk to who would help me see that it was OK. But I kept striking out. I need to have a phone list for those times when I just canít think straight. Well, my frustration and rage took over again. I threw several notebooks and overturned a chair (that poor chair doesnít sit level anymore!). I started sobbing Ė from the sadness, the frustration, and the fear at how I lose control like that. I tried praying to calm down. A few minutes later my boss called and I told him I just couldnít do anything then, and of course I started to cry. He said that was OK and if I needed to leave or anything I could. I went out to take a walk and I walked for over an hour until I was just too tired to be upset. And I was so much calmer when I got back.

So when I got home, Steve and I finished packing to go to Salt Fork. I was feeling kind of positive about it and a little excited to be getting away. And driving up to the lodge we saw the rays of sunshine shining through the clouds and stopped to take some pictures. And then we had a very relaxing, pleasant dinner.

The next morning we went down to go swimming and use the whirlpool around 7 am. There was no one else there and it was so peaceful. Then we went to breakfast. One of the things I remember talking about is that, ďI canít make myself happy.Ē What I meant was that while I am sad like this, I can control my attitude and how I handle it, but I canít make myself feel happy. I can be content, but I canít make myself feel something. I feel what I feel and I canít control that. And Steve said he thought that was really interesting because so many people pursue things because they think they will make them happy. And I have realized that is not the case.

Things had started to go downhill for me during breakfast, though. It was raining in the morning, and I had been somewhat excited about hiking and taking some pictures, and now it looked like that wasnít going to happen. And there was just nothing else that I was even the slightest bit interested in. I didnít want to browse in the gift shop. I didnít want to read the paper or a book. I didnít want to hang around waiting. I wanted to leave. But I didnít want to go back home.

I was so disappointed! I had really gotten my hopes up that maybe this time away would help me feel better. And while it did for the moment, I really didnít feel better. And that was so hard to take. So as we were walking back to our room, I was carrying my camera and I handed it to Steve, saying, ďYouíd better hold this,Ē because I was starting to feel myself getting ready to lose control and I knew that when I did I would throw the camera if I had it.

We were almost to the room when I quietly said, ďletís just go home,Ē then I started to cry and pound on the wall and said, ďI donít want to go home.Ē We went in the room and I picked up a pillow and started beating it against the wall and crying and shouting, ďI hate this. I donít want to be here. I donít want to be home. I just donít want to be.Ē Finally I wore myself out enough to stop and just sit and cry. It really scares me when I lose control like that, and I told him that. I donít want to be depressed and morose all the time. I donít want to lose control. I donít want to not want to talk to anyone.

Well we ended up checking out and going to get gas. And by the time we got gas, the rain had stopped, so we went back to hike. It was cold and windy and overcast, but it didnít rain anymore. And so we started walking. And like usual, I can cope so much better if I can get some exercise. We had to walk down the road about 10 minutes to get to the trail and by then I was actually feeling kind of happy and chatty. I took my camera to try to get some pictures, so I was doing the only things that have had much interest for me lately. And the trail was wet and we had to deviate some for all the mud, but it felt so good to be out there. It was so peaceful and it was steep so we were tired when we got back about 2 hours later. It was perfect for me. So when we had lunch, I rather enjoyed it again. The number of mood swings I have had in the past few days is so exhausting for me, and Iím sure it is for Steve.

So I had been doing pretty well since coming home yesterday, but once I got to church I felt it closing in again and didnít want to be with anyone. I think I feel so obvious and on-display at church and it magnifies my desire to be alone. I havenít sung any songs at church for at least 2 weeks. Itís not that Iím angry at God or that I donít agree with the songs, itís just that I donít feel like singing.

I have been getting really angry with anyone who doesnít see something exactly the way I do. I just have NO TOLERANCE right now. And it is taking everything in me to not let them have it. I guess my coping skills are at zero right now and if anyone is concerned about anything that I donít personally feel is important (which means just about everything right now) I just donít even want to hear it. I have to get a handle on this rage. Maybe thatís another reason why it is so much easier to just avoid everyone than try to deal with it.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Today the cloud lifted. It is the best day I have had in several weeks. I had the spring back in my step at work and the smile in my voice today. And today, it all seems doable again. The up and down is so weird.

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