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Tag Archives: loss

What’s Left Behind

4 Feb

So – I’ll save you the usual apologies for being gone so long. Until we move and/or get Bunny into daycare, sporadic will just have to do. 🙂

This post has been running through my head for a while, though I admit it’s still a jumble. I’m hoping that writing it out will help clarify some things.

What is left when the wreckage of the last 3.5 years is cleared?

I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately. The last 5(!) months since Bunny was born have been a whirlwind. New job, big decisions, and of course the huge life change that is just having her here. I admit there are still days that I “remember” I’m a mom and freak the fuck out. She is still in a lot of ways an abstract to me. But she’s slowly but surely becoming a little person with her own wants needs and desires, so the abstract is gaining focus.

Last month, Shmerson and I re-watched the first two seasons of “Sherlock” (don’t be so impressed, it’s only six episodes), in preparation for the new season. While watching it, I realized that I remembered NOTHING. Not one single thing about this show, which I knew that I loved and I always categorized as brilliant. When I mentioned this to Shmerson, I noted: “We must have watched it while I was drugged up.”

I don’t think I hid this here, but I don’t think I discussed it much either: After losing Nadav I spent the better part of six months HEAVILY medicated. My pregnancy with Bunny I spent on very strong anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, which meant I was mostly emotionally detached from everything that entire time (and it wasn’t just the meds, it was also a defense mechanism). I credit that medication with saving my sanity and my life. But it does mean that there’s a good year or so of my life that passed in a complete haze.  I started taking anti-depressants for the first time in December of 2010 – over 3 years ago – which generally numbed my feelings. I am now only taking Xan.ax to deal with my anxiety disorder, and I’m on a very small dose. For the first time in 3 years – I’m no longer in a haze or emotionally detached due to medication.

It gets more complicated: My first miscarriage happened just two months after our wedding. From that point on, I was a woman on a mission. I abandoned literally EVERYTHING in pursuit of a baby. In June of 2010, had you asked – I would have said that my greatest ambition was to direct feature films. I had already gotten a development grant and I was getting closer and closer to that goal. If you would have told me then that I’d abandon it all to accommodate a string of high-risk pregnancies, and then become a content manager at a start-up and actually ENJOY it I would have thought that the notion was absurd.

My first loss turned everything upside down for me, and the world has only really begun to straighten up now. There were moments during the last 3.5 years that I *thought* I had things figured out. I “made decisions” regarding my future. I “pushed on”. In hindsight – those moments were a total crock.

I spent 6 months thinking I wanted to be a teacher. I spent a year and a half teaching.

I do NOT want to be a teacher.

I went back to school to get BA level psych credits so that I could do a Master’s in Art Therapy.

I do NOT want to be an art therapist.

I also don’t think I want to be a filmmaker, though that option hasn’t completely been taken off the table. 10 years of pursuing it and 2 degrees keep it perpetually on the table.

I love my job – but I’m also not sure I want to be doing that for the rest of my life.

But this is not just about career choices.

Out of the last 3.5 years, I spent 84 weeks of them pregnant. That’s almost 20 months. Practically two years.

I spent the remainder either attempting to get pregnant or grieving a lost pregnancy, or both at the same time.

(For the sake of this argument, I’m not counting of course the 5 months I have now spent raising Bunny).

That time basically demolished me completely. Giving birth to Bunny only cleared the wreckage, and of course, I can’t rely on her to rebuild. This is about me.

I need to figure out who I am now. That’s kind of a huge deal.

The last 3.5 years have called almost all of my assumptions about myself into question. Parts of my personality that I was CONVINCED were inherent to it are now absolutely gone.

A small example: I was absolutely 100% convinced that I will always be a person who struggles to diet. Gestational diabetes changed that. I have been consistently shedding pounds since giving birth and I’m now 5 pounds less than I was before getting pregnant with Bunny. I have a good 20 to go before I reach my ideal weight, but I’m getting there, and it’s not even CLOSE to being a struggle. Patience and willpower? Ha! Small potatoes compared to the hell of a high-risk pregnancy.

Any free headspace I have these days is dedicated to two things:

1) Figuring out who I am

2) Making an effort to fix the things I don’t like about myself.

There are very few things I know about myself now. This is what I’ve managed to figure out so far:

I know I both love and am terrified by being a mother.

I know I love my husband.*

I know that I have a strong survival instinct, and I am incredibly stubborn.

I know I’m good at my job.

I know I’m a good writer (prose mostly, ok at scripts, suck at  poetry).

I know I don’t trust doctors.

I know that generally, people tend to like me when they  meet me.

I know that I have absolutely NO fashion sense, nor do I have an interest in developing one.

I know I have some serious self-esteem issues

I know that purple is my favorite color, Faith No More is my favorite band, my favorite books are the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy, and the odd one out – “The Music of Chance” by Paul Auster. I’m a 90’s pop culture junkie and I love (modern) Dr. Who and (not-so-modern) Monty Python movies.

I know I’m a good cook, though I’m no longer sure what my favorite food is. It used to be lobster. I think it may now be french fries. Or maybe fresh-baked white bread with butter.

I know I’m a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, and a good sister. Though in my weakest moments I question all of that.

If you’re counting, that’s basically 12 things. Everything else is up in the air.

Wait – I know one more thing: That whatever I figure out about who I am, I want Bunny to be proud of that person. I know I need to lead by example.

The wreckage has cleared – it’s time to rebuild.

* Last night Shmerson and I had a bit of a mini-fight. It ended with me explaining all of this to him. He told me: “I don’t know what you’re going to be either, but I can’t wait to find out, because I know it’ll be amazing.” I love him so fucking much.

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What Was and Will Be Lost

11 May

There is a dear friend of mine who reads this blog, and this post is also about him. RMW – please know that I love you. I hope that what you are about to read will not hurt you in any way, because that is not my intention. I wanted to call and give you a head’s up about this, but honestly, I couldn’t find the words on the phone. Hopefully I find them here.

On the night before we lost Nadav, I was in the hospital. It was the worst night of my life. I knew what was waiting for me on the other side of that night. I knew what was to come. I was lying in a hospital bed, feeling him kick, knowing that I wouldn’t be feeling it for long. I knew that by that time the next day, I would lose my child.

Meanwhile, about an hour and half south of that hospital bed, a dear friend of mine was having the best night of his life. He was marrying his partner in front of friends and family. I was supposed to be among those friends.

That Monday morning I had given strict orders: Don’t tell him what’s going on. He should not be thinking of me. Just tell him the doctor put me back on bed rest and that’s why I can’t be there.

And that’s what my friends did.

Just as those two gorgeous men were about to walk down the aisle, I texted RMW. I told him how sorry I was that I wasn’t there. How I wish him all of the happiness in the world.

Then I cried.

The next night, just as labor was kicking in he called. We talked and he was amazing. A few days later he came to visit during one of my darker days. I know how happy he was, and that made the gesture even more meaningful. I feel like what happened to me is a stain on his happiness.

Today he posted a slideshow of his wedding on Facebook. I had been wanting to see pictures, so I was happy.

My reaction was unexpected. It was a mingling of regret, and sadness, and grief. Not just for Nadav, but for missing that beautiful night. For being part of the bad memories of that night, and not of the beautiful ones.

Squish, RMW, Me0Me and I are in this sort of gang. Squish is my BFF, and she’s RMW’s fag hag for life. I am Me0Me’s fag hag for life, and he and RMW are pretty much BFF’s. We make up this “gang of four”. Sometimes we’re closer, sometimes we’re further away, but the core is there. It has been for about 15 years now.

On the night of RMW’s wedding, Squish and Me0Me knew what was happening with me. They respected my wishes and had the time of their lives. They got smashed. They danced. They celebrated.

Then RMW went home, and they both collapsed in a heap of grief.

Nadav was a loss for them as well.

They were going to be his aunt and uncles. They loved him.

Nadav was supposed to be the end of my two-year-long torment, one that they had held my hand through.

Instead, he was lost. And mourned. Not just by me, but by everyone who loved me. By the three other people in our little gang of four.

Today I watched RMW’s slide show and cried. I cried because this journey made me miss the happiest day of my dear friend’s life. I cried because the best night of his life was the worst night of mine.

I cried because I hate the fact that this will forever be intertwined in my head. I cried because I wanted the happiest night of RMW’s life to be one of the happiest of mine. Just like the night I saw Me0Me and his husband exchange vows. I wanted to be a part of that moment, and I was not.

I was an hour and a half north, in a hospital bed, bawling in the arms of my family. Feeling Nadav kick his last kicks.

Shmerson’s cousin is getting married in a few months (hey there O, I know you’re probably reading this too). It will be happening in the U.S.

And chances are that I won’t be there. If all goes according to plan (which it rarely does, but perhaps it will), I will not be at that wedding. I will be in bed. Missing out on another joyous occasion. Missing out on a chance to see friends, to spend time with family.

Missing out – all in the pursuit of a child.

There are days, even weeks, that I want to push forward. I want to go through all of this again as soon as possible, so we can put this behind us and move forward. So we finally know the outcome.

But there are days like today, when I feel utterly alone. I feel the weight of what has been lost, and what will be lost in pursuit of this.

There are days like today when I wish that this ache for a child didn’t exist. That the clock wasn’t ticking. That I could just leave this now.

So that I don’t miss anymore moments of joy. So that I don’t have to be the cause of so many moments of grief.

There are days like today that I wish I was there to witness my friend’s happy moment. To have completed the gang of four that night, rather than to have been the missing piece.

In a hospital bed, feeling my son’s final kicks.

There are days like today when I just want to live again. When I don’t want to lose any more.

Lessons of Loss

19 Sep

I’ve found myself leaving the same comment in different variations on a bunch of different blogs lately. It always seems insufficient so I decided to write a blog post. I have a blog, so it seemed fitting. 🙂 Anyway, I apologize in advance for getting all deep and sappy on you guys.

The last couple of months have brought me clarity in a way I never thought was possible. As chaotic as life has been lately, I’ve found myself in a state of relative peace. I think that embracing my desires rather than fighting them has made a huge difference in the way I view things. I want to share some of my newfound perspective with you.

These last 15 months have been filled with heartbreak after heartbreak. I have yet to achieve my dream of becoming a mother. I have yet to carry a baby past 8 weeks.

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong woman. Yet, in this last year I have felt pain beyond pain and my weaknesses have been exposed. That strength I thought I had was not real. It came from a place of emotional detachment. It came from a place of self-delusion and denial.

If there’s one thing that my losses have done, it’s been to force me to look myself in the mirror and find my true strength. They have snapped me out of the bubble that was my reality. In hindsight, that reality was a lie. It was repressed depression and anxiety. It was a lack of confidence and a lack of focus. Having to face down tragedy on such a big scale, having to deal with so much grief in such a short time finally brought all of these repressed emotions to the surface. I have realized that I was never strong. I was a ball of anxiety. I was going through the motions of life rather than living. I was on auto pilot. I spent most of my time in an un-feeling haze, never letting my true emotions break through the surface.

Until they forced their way through because I couldn’t hold them any more. They were too much to bear. I broke into a million pieces over and over again. I had to find a way to put myself back together.

I have spent the last year in a constant existential crisis. Always trying to find meaning, constantly trying to understand the “why” of all of this.

But something has changed in me. I don’t know whether I have that “why” yet. All I know is that I’m finally building myself back up, piece by piece. I am no longer trying to put a roof on a building with no foundation. I now realize that first you need to pour the cement.

Recently, one of my closest friends went through a pretty serious medical scare. She had to have a scan done at a hospital. I immediately volunteered to go with her and hold her hand through it.

A year ago, I may have just emotionally detached. I most definitely wouldn’t have entered a hospital voluntarily. But today, I’ve faced hospitals. I’ve faced scans. They don’t scare me any more. I am stronger, and therefore I could be strong for my friend when she needed me. I realize how much of a blessing that really is.

I’ve found true compassion for others. I have found the peace and fulfillment that comes from helping people who are in pain. I have found that my passion in life is for giving to others, and not creating for myself. I have found out what true love is, through an amazing husband that has held my hand as I fell apart, and stuck around to help me pick up the pieces.

I think that all of us in the ALI community are lucky. As much as life has dealt us a crappy hand, we see the world as it truly is, and we make it through. We don’t operate on auto-pilot. We have known loss and tragedy, and we are stronger for it.

Happiness can’t be appreciated if you haven’t felt pain and despair. Those around us that go through life having not known loss, can’t appreciate what they have as much as we can. We are lucky, because our losses and our grief has come at a relatively early stage in our lives. This means that we can spend the rest of our lives appreciating what we have. This means that after getting through this difficult time we will be able to look around and be grateful. We know what it’s like to be empty, and therefore being full is a reward, not a fact of life that is ignored.

The truth is that everyone will suffer loss at some point in their life. It is inevitable, it is part of what life is. These losses help us re-evaluate who we are, re-focus our goals, and truly appreciate the good things that we have.

This is the blessing of loss and infertility. That this appreciation comes so early for us. We know heartbreak, so our own hearts fill more easily. We know loss, and therefore we know and appreciate love. We have been helped, so we know how to help others.

Even now, with my damaged and scarred body, with all of the grief and pain that this last year has brought me, I can truly say: I am lucky. I am lucky to have had these experiences. I am lucky to have been kicked out of auto-pilot at such a young age, because now I can truly work on leading a fulfilling life. I am lucky to know how fragile life is, so when I finally create a life, I will marvel at the miracle more than I ever thought possible. I am lucky to have been through pain, because now I know how to hold someone else’s hand when they are in pain.

I am lucky. I am grateful. I am humbled.

I may not be whole, but I think I am slowly finding my way toward being content. And that is a gift that most people don’t have. I hope I can continue to embrace it.

My Two Little Butterflies

1 Mar

taken about 30 seconds after the tattoo was finished – so it’s still raw.

Drawn especially for me. For us.

Thanks to everyone who’s been there for me today.

And Shmerson – I love you more today than I did 9 months ago, even though I didn’t think that was possible. You are my rock. Thank you.

 

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