The Eighth Month

Sunday, April 06, 2003

This has been the loneliest birthday I have ever had. Not for lack of effort on others' parts, but I just feel so sad and lonely. On Monday and Tuesday I started feeling a little better, and I thought that maybe since C. had her baby I would start to feel more normal again. But on Wednesday I started getting more weepy again. I found out a coworker had some pictures of the baby and when I was ready I could see them. The more the day went on, I wished I hadn't even known that. I realized that her baby had already been alive longer than Abigail was.

What do I want? Do I think no one understands? Do I wish they would talk about Abigail? I don't know. They are all so concerned, so it's not that. And they're really not expressing any opinions that I should be moving on or anything. But I just don't want to talk with anyone except those who have been through it. And I just LONG to talk with them. I guess I really feel isolated and lonely - that it is too hard and too much effort to be with anyone else. I don't want to hear their petty concerns; I don't want to hear their real problems because I am obsessed with my own, and I don't want to have a good time either.

What is wrong with me? Why am I so down now? I feel bad that everyone is trying so hard to make me feel better, all the birthday cards and emails, and it doesn't really help. Maybe what I want them to do is send me a card that says they are thinking about Abigail.

I don't want to deal with life right now - with the responsibilities at work or church. I really need to stop thinking things will make me feel better - they probably won't - and then I'll just be even more disappointed. I need to just go day by day. But it's so hard for me to do that since I'm used to looking forward to little things to get me through - it's how I've always done things.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

We are planning a celebration at work for next Thursday for having a safe year, and C. is planning on coming and bringing the baby. Oh, no! That thought struck terror in me. Of course, everyone will be asking her about the baby and she will be showing pictures even if she doesn't bring him. And I'm afraid it will tear me up to see it. I don't want to try to hold it together through that, in front of the staff and the strangers. I would rather cry, but I don't know if I could do that in public, either. So I posted on my message boards asking what they recommend.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

The responses to my question were split between seeing her ahead of time and calling off sick. I decided to go ahead and call C. At first it was a little hard, and a couple of times I started to cry. But it felt so good when she asked how it was going and I said, "it sucks" and she laughed. And so I laughed. What a relief to be talking to her again! I told her I missed her, and she said she missed talking to me, too. It felt like back when I was in high school and I had a fight with my best friend and then we made up - so good to be talking again. I feel so much better now; it has lifted my spirits quite a bit. Maybe this was what I needed to release some of the burden.

It is so strange. In this case I think it was better to be pushed a little; I probably should have called her before. It is so hard to know when I should push myself a little and when I should just not do something if I don't feel ready. Who can figure this out?

Thursday, April 10, 2003

This morning M. arrived for our ISO 9000 audit and right after saying hello she said she had been thinking about me and asked how I was doing. I told her it's been up and down and that I have been going through a rough time lately, and that I think about Abigail every minute. She said, "I don't know how you couldn't." So I was glad she was so direct about it; I thought she might be. At one point M. said she was on another audit and thought about me. She had come upon a woman who had also lost her baby and had told M. that no one talks about the baby. I told her that is true, and it's hard.

Afterwards, M. looked at pictures of Abigail. She said her cousin had lost his daughter 10 years ago and had told her that no one talks about her; it's as if she never existed. She said she has realized from those experiences that she should ask to see pictures and talk about Abigail. Some people seem to pay attention and pick these things up and are able to comfortably talk about our babies. Is it their personality or just that they do pay attention? Are they all nervous about it, too? Probably, but the important thing is that some people have learned enough to go ahead and say it.

It felt so good to talk about Abigail. It's really the first time I have gotten out her pictures to show anyone at work since I have been back.

Friday, April 11, 2003

The last 2 days I have felt a little better but then I felt the cloud returning. It is so frustrating. I was really thinking that not talking to C. was a big reason why I have been down and that maybe the good days I had would continue now that I've taken that step. I guess I need to quit trying to find a quick fix or even one thing to change my mood. There is not one event or thing that will make me feel better. My sadness and depression were caused by one event, but I can't change it, which is what would really make me feel better.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Ladies Day was today and it went pretty well. I had been doing somewhat better to begin with, and dedicating the poem to Abigail did what I intended: made me able to handle the whole day. A few people said something to me; most didn't, but at least Abigail wasn't the forbidden topic. Many people in the audience were crying when I did it; interestingly I wasn't. At one point I think my voice cracked a little, but I didn't start to cry. I am glad I wrote it out because I couldn't really remember it and needed to read it, but I had practiced it enough to not get all emotional. But after I sat down and we started singing the next song, I started to tear up and had to fight not to burst into tears. Maybe it was adrenaline while I was up there. But I was really happy with it. I got to honor Abigail and so I got to enjoy the day somewhat. So it was a real success. Here' what I said:

At last year's Ladies' Day, when I was pregnant, I remember thinking that this year I would be sitting here holding a baby in my lap. But Abigail wasn't made for this world - she was made for God. We got to meet her and hold her and love her for a few sweet, wonderful days - days I wouldn't trade for anything in the world - but she couldn't stay. She had to go home - to her real home. And even though I miss her terribly - every single minute - I know she is now healthy and perfect and so happy. I picture her laughing, singing and playing and I'm absolutely sure she must have the biggest, most beautiful smile. And I don't know if there's orneriness in heaven, but if there is, I have a feeling she is probably involved. So I'd like to dedicate this to Abigail, who has gone home to be with Jesus.

Then I read this poem:  A Heavenly Home by Marilyn Ferguson

Monday, April 14, 2003

It seems that I can get through each day ok if I have something planned that relates to Abigail. It may be lunch with R., getting an email from someone on the board, going to see my counselor, seeing K, journaling. If I don't have those, I feel at loose ends. I still just REALLY need to talk about Abigail or how her loss has changed my life, every single day. Going to work makes it hard because I have to focus on other things for a good part of the day and then I just long for Abigail time when I get home. How long until the emotions don't take up so much energy and I can spend some on other things?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I was glad to see C. - and the baby was sleeping at first so we got to talk a while before I really had to deal with the baby. After awhile, the baby woke up and she let me hold him. I really looked him over and talked to him. The hardest part was when I gave him a bottle - Abigail couldn't eat - I held her for 5 days and never got to feed her - and so I cried the whole time I fed him. It was hard when he reached out and grabbed my little finger while I was holding the bottle. I cried a good while with him. Afterwards, C. asked if I thought it would be easier on Thursday. I said maybe easier, but not easy. Most of the way home I just felt drained. I was surprised I didn't cry more, but I think I was still tense because of Thursday.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The lunch went ok; again he was sleeping for a while and I took some pictures of everyone for our newsletter while everyone was eating and talking. And I really didn't feel like I was barely hanging on. Then as people were filing out, I saw a group fawning over the baby, and suddenly the sadness overwhelmed me and I had to get out, now. I almost ran out of there and went outside and cried. I eventually went back in and there were only a couple people in the cafeteria. I spent some time alone with C. and the secretary and took some pictures of the baby and C. holding him. Then I picked him up again and held him. I walked away a little and turned my back and talked to him. I told him about Abigail and that since I can't hold her anymore I was holding him. And I kissed him since I couldn't kiss Abigail anymore. Of course I cried, too. But I think I needed to hold him. C. took a couple pictures of me holding him. Then I told her goodbye and went back to my office.

Once I got there, the sadness just knocked me over and sent me falling backwards down a deep, deep hole. It just kept getting blacker and lower. It felt so awful. It was just like I was back at the beginning again. I started sobbing for maybe 15 minutes.

Why can I hold it together, even when I'm not trying, only to completely fall apart afterwards? I was prepared for it to be hard, but I had determined that it would be ok if I had a hard time; I wasn't going to hide it. But while we were all there, I did great. I wasn't even "trying" to hold it together. Maybe I was distracted enough or something. Several people told me how great I was doing, and I said, "right now." What was especially hard was hearing all these people, men mainly, asking about the baby and how he was sleeping, etc. Those same people have never even acknowledged Abigail's existence. They are not comfortable with her so they don't talk about her. Oh how much more it hurts because people ignore her.

It's strange; I am kind of angry that I did so well in front of everyone. Now they all think I am doing pretty well and am so strong. They have no idea how hard it really is. Why can't I let it out in front of them? I fear them seeing it, but I get angry when they don't because that makes it harder later - people understand even less. I long for people to understand and be helpful instead of harmful.

So anyway, it WAS really, really hard. But I think it was good for me, too, in some strange way. Oh, I wish we didn't have to try to go on with normal life and grieve at the same time. I wish everyone understood what this is like and was more supportive. I wish A. lived nearby so we could see each other and cry together and hug each other. I wish Abigail hadn't died. I miss her so much.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Easter. Yesterday we had our egg hunt party at our house and I actually enjoyed myself. Today I had a hard day because I hadn't had my alone time to recover and I had to go back to church right away. I have realized that Saturday social events wreak havoc on Sundays. And Sundays are really tough anyway - Steve is under pressure, so it is not a good day for me to be falling apart. And this week I had told Steve I wanted to go by the cemetery on the way to church, so he said, let's leave by 8:30, which is about 1/2 hour early. So this morning, it became evident that there's no way he's going to be ready to leave by 8:30. Since he had told me we would leave early, it just really angered and hurt me. And so I took the kids and we went.

So I started the day with an attitude and it just got worse. All the families planning family things. My friends' pregnant daughter and infant granddaughter visiting and sitting right in front of us. I ended up crying through the entire service, but I didn't leave early. But the minute it was over I escaped since I had my car. Why do I have to suffer in silence? Why is it not socially acceptable to have a hard time like I did? Why do I have to feel like I have to get out of there, or that if I sit and cry that I don't want people to see? That is why it is so much easier to just stay away from everyone and not be with anyone at all.

I just had a really bad afternoon and then Steve and I had a angry blow-up as he was leaving for church in the evening (I was staying home - I couldn't face any more people). So I was miserable. But once again, being forced was good, since we did some long-overdue talking that night. It's so easy to get so involved with the day-to-day details of life that we don't make time for each other until last. So we decided to change that. We know that; why do we let it slide so easily?

Monday, April 21, 2003

I just had a strange, sort of sad conversation. I am covering for my friend C. here at work, and I had to call a supplier to arrange payment for a service. The woman on the phone was very friendly and told me C. had told her I would be covering for her. Then she asked if I had heard from her, how was she doing, etc. And today I am doing pretty well, feeling kind of chatty, so I said, "yes, I saw her and the baby last week," and we talked about his name, how she's doing, etc. Then she made some comment about how I now have extra work to do - counting the days until she comes back. And I said, "Yeah, and...", intending to say that C. also had to cover for me last fall while I was on maternity leave. But as soon as I started saying it I realized that if I did, it would lead to THE QUESTION. And I did NOT want to go there, so I kind of just said, "Yeah" again, and then proceeded with the business at hand.

It didn't upset me or anything, it just made me kind of sad that I had an impulse to say it and didn't because it would turn this pleasant conversation in a different direction.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I am struggling a little. I have been working on the newsletter, another fill-in thing for C. I am putting in the pictures from the celebration and am including pictures of C. and the baby. Why am I putting myself through this? Why am I doing the newsletter when it is so painful? Am I embracing the pain like I should or am I making it worse? These things seem so logical for me to do because of my interest in scrapbooking, photography, etc. so I just assume I should. And then when it is hard, I hesitate to complain because people will think, "then why are you doing that?" So I don't really know what to do.

Tonight at supper we were eating and Sarah asked me, "are you having a sad day?" And I said, "no, not really." And she asked, "Is it a GOOD day?" And I said, "Yes, I guess it is." And she put her arms up like she was signaling a touchdown and shouted, "IT'S A GOOD DAY!" Man, I guess I really AM pathetic!  :-)

Friday, April 25, 2003

I haven't written in here for a few days. It seems like the cloud has started to lift this week. And when I am feeling better, I don't feel the need to write in here as much. The time spent with Steve, holding each other, has had an incredible effect on both of us. Our patience level with each other and with the kids is so much higher. It is like a drug; almost magic in its power. I can tell we both feel how nice it is. How could we have drifted so far from it?

Today was a little tougher, though, because I had to work on the newsletter again. I decided to put Abigail's playground in the newsletter next month. It will be appropriate since so many people at work contributed to it. So that made me feel better, but it is still hard not to hurt when I see C.'s baby in it and not Abigail. I am hoping, though, that my little bit of a downturn today is due to that and that I will turn it back around. Tonight when I put Nathan to bed, he said that I didn't seem like I was having a sad day. I told him I wasn't, that it was a good day. And I told him I liked good days better than sad days, and he said he did, too.

I am absolutely sure that I am a different person because of Abigail. No question. 100% sure. I would never have even gone to talk to those who are hurting or have suffered losses before; but I have done that twice this week at work. In the past I may have had an impulse to do it, but talked myself out of it under the guise of not bothering them or reminding them, etc. when really it was that I was uncomfortable and concerned that they might not appreciate it. So I am a better person for what I have learned.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Yesterday was a better day. I went to the Hospice Memorial service with Steve's mom. When I was pregnant, I used to play a song by Mark Schultz: "Remember Me" in the car on the way to work and sing with it. And Abigail would ALWAYS start to kick when I sang that song. I don't know if she liked it or if she was trying to tell me to shut up! But I so wish I had played it and sang it to her after she was born. At the time I thought about it briefly but I didn't think it was that big a deal. I didn't know it would bother me this much. So at the service, the soloist sang that song, and I cried the whole time. But it was a good service.

After church in the evening I felt like everyone was swarming around me because I had said I was doing better and I felt the cloud had lifted. I felt a lot of pressure. I mean, everyone is trying to be encouraging and is truly happy that I am doing better. But it feels like pressure, like the expectation or the desired state of affairs is to be happy. And when I am down, everyone says, "I hope you feel better soon." Once again the pressure: that being sad or down is not an acceptable condition. People are trying to be encouraging, but really what it feels like they are saying is that only if I am happy will that be acceptable. What I want people to do is to acknowledge that it is hard and that they're sorry, but to tell me it's ok to feel that way instead of always pressuring me to feel good. I'm SUPPOSED to be sad; my baby died! Let me be sad! IT'S OK FOR ME TO BE SAD! I'm tired of feeling like I am letting everyone down when I'm sad and that they are falling over themselves to be excited when I am not sad. STOP IT! Just let me feel whatever I am feeling and love me regardless.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

What is going on? A few months ago I thought the down times seemed to be getting a little shorter and a little less frequent, but now it seems like the good times are much shorter and much less frequent. I feel like I'm going backwards. I used to feel so much joy when I remembered the time we got to spend with Abigail; what a blessing to have that time. And I am still so glad to have had the time, but now all I feel is sadness. I'm just so sad and tired all the time. Why am I going backwards? I am functioning; I go to work, to church, shopping, play with the kids, but I might as well be a robot. Either I am miserable or just "not there". I really want to be alone most of the time, but I feel so lonely.

Why is it getting harder instead of easier?

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Last night I went to a grief support group. The others have lost spouses and are in different stages of grief. But I was amazed at some things, like how similar the grief is in so many ways. You can see the intensity of early grief and so I find myself thinking that others' losses must be harder than mine. But I don't really think they are, though. Some are just fresher. I remember the intensity of the pain at that earlier point. And it woke me up to the fact that even though I have been going through a rough time lately, I really HAVE come a long way from that point. So it is encouraging.

I am realizing that I need to be with those who understand so they can validate me and help me see I am not crazy or doing it wrong. I start to feel wrong or pressured around others, but then when I talk to others with a loss, I realize that I am doing the right things. It's just so easy to be swayed by our company, so I need to keep the right company.

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