Mark and I were recently looking at my baby book/calendar, and we noticed a “special visitor” sticker to signify one of my milestones. But my mom failed to clarify who said “special visitor” was… So me thinks this person probably wasn’t very special at all.
The other day I admitted to my therapist that if I know a family member (because in theory a family member is closest to us and SHOULD be better) is uncomfortable with my reality, I will speak even more candidly about it just to add to said family member’s discomfort, and my therapist started laughing (in kind of a sinister way) and was like, “Good. Society is bad with grief and needs to improve.” I’m glad my therapist supports my efforts.
I’m still breastfeeding. I go through my ups and downs with it, though it’s categorically better compared to the earliest days. However, during a particular down day, I googled, “How do I know when to give up breastfeeding?” and I stumbled upon a La Leche League forum, where someone had already posted a similar question and also told their story. It went something like this… “I’m struggling with low supply. I’m feeding my baby every hour, and she’s still starving. When I’m not feeding, I’m pumping, only to get half an ounce at a time. I’m taking seven supplements to help boost my supply, and I’m not sleeping. One of my nipples just fell off, and I’m thinking of jumping off a bridge, and my marriage is in ruins. I don’t know how much more I can take! How do I know when to give up?” And all of the replies were something to the effect of, “Whatever you do, DO NOT give up!” So I decided maybe not to post my question in this forum.
I’m really excited about Survivor – Millennials vs. Gen X. I’m technically a millennial, but I was like 40 at heart, but now, after what I’ve been through, I think I’m more like 75, so, needless to say, I probably most often times identify best with gen Xers over millennials. Most of the millennials on Survivor fit the prevailing millennial stereotype (e.g. grew up earning participation trophies, etc.), so I figured this show might exacerbate their already high unemployment rate, but then the millennials won the first immunity challenge, so who the hell knows what will happen now?
Yesterday we went to the hospital to visit Joel’s new friend, Brody, who was born on Wednesday. I met Brody’s mom, Jen, at about this time last year – she lost her first child, Jack, almost exactly one month after Matthew died. There are so many similarities in our stories, and I continue to be so thankful for Jen’s friendship, and I’m beyond grateful that Brody arrived safely (via emergency C-section). I look forward to playdates with these two sweet rainbows.
Some local baby loss moms from my support group planned a trivia night (held on September 10) to support our hospital’s bereavement practice (Mercy HeartPrints). They did a great job and raised over $12,000! You can read more about the event here at my friend Liz’s blog – the night was nothing short of amazing.
In the past two weeks we’ve had Mrs. Field’s and Bayer come to do photo shoots at our house. These are getting more difficult with Joel here, as we generally have to entertain him in another part of our house (outside of the main area) for most of the day. The Bayer shoot was for packaging for flea and tick collars, so there were like 20 animals at our house, and each of them had a handler, and then we had the usual creative types running around everywhere, and it made me feel like kind of a hippie, because at one point there was a cat being photographed in the middle of our living room, and there were like 12 cat whisperers coaxing it to behave, and one of them was waving this feathery thing, and I was trying to open this little package of banana bread in the kitchen and got chastised for “distracting” the cat. But no one was burning incense or smoking out of a hookah (or whatever the kids do these days), so it wasn’t too weird I guess.
Last week, my new baby loss mom friend, and fellow WordPress blogger, Erin, and her husband, Scott, came to visit us on their way home from Florida to Ohio, which St. Louis isn’t on the way, so it really didn’t make sense, but it didn’t have to, because life doesn’t make sense. It was so nice to meet them, and we enjoyed sharing about Matthew and about their son, Alexander. I have a dream that some of us WordPress moms/bloggers can all meet up in the future…
I recently met with my boss to discuss my schedule for returning to work, a subject I’d been wanting to avoid. Mark prompted me to email my boss to set up this meeting, because I really couldn’t even remember having a job, because so much has happened/changed over the past year (i.e. Matthew’s death, my resulting grief, the anxiety with my subsequent pregnancy, Joel’s birth, becoming a parent to a living child). And then I was kind of disappointed, because, imagine that somebody just blindsides you with the news that you were an accountant in a former life… It isn’t the worst news, but it isn’t the best news either. But anyway, my meeting went relatively well, and I’m hopeful the plan I proposed will be accepted and will help me strike a good work/life balance and will also help me manage my anxiety. More on this later…
The other day I opened the refrigerator to find the biggest piece of cheese I have ever seen in my life, and it’s so spicy that it almost isn’t edible, which is true for many of the things that Mark buys.
Last night I hosted book club, where we discussed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I enjoyed the book, but it was all sorts of triggery, potentially, for someone like me who’s lost a baby, but I still managed to get through it.
I’m going to be writing a blog post on October 14 for the Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support blog tour associated with October National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and I’m worried it will either completely suck, or I’ll be in one of my quirky moods and write something that is too offbeat, and it will totally freak people out.
Joel is just over eight weeks old. At about seven and a half weeks, he “woke up,” and is now very curious about the world around him, loving to be carried around the house. He is now definitively giving us big social smiles, but has to be in the mood to do so. He’s also very good at furrowing his brow and curling his lip, basically looking extremely confused and pissed off, looks Mark insists Joel inherited from me. (Thanks Mark. And I already know my dad is going to send me an email to say he agrees. And I’m unsure as to whether I should be extremely offended, but I also can’t necessarily argue with them.) Joel’s a big baby – almost 14 lbs (wearing six month clothes!), still loves to eat, and is rocking his tummy time. (Until like three days ago he hated it.)
All of these aforementioned milestones have been so exciting to witness, but when they occur it’s impossible not to think about all we’ve missed with Matthew and wonder what he would have been like, and my heart breaks all over again, and recently I’ve had some moments when I feel almost as bad as I did in the early days of grief, though, on a positive note, I find I can rebound from said moments more quickly than I could before. Mark also framed a picture of Matthew in a new part of our house, and every time I walk by it, I feel this renewed sadness – I just can’t believe he is so beautiful, yet he is also dead.
The other night I was reading Joel a bedtime story. He was in the middle of our bed, and I was on one side (reading), and Mark was on the other. And I could see tears in Mark’s eyes. I asked, “It’s Matthew, isn’t it?” And he nodded, choking out, “I just wish we could have gotten to know him.” And all I could do was think, “Me too. Me too.” And I could barely finish the story I was reading to Joel.
Life is much better for us than it was a year ago, but, as Megan Devine at Refuge in Grief so often says about her loss, so I’ll also say it about mine – losing Matthew fucking sucks, and this isn’t any less true today than it was the day he died.
I find that lately I’ve been able to do a better job compartmentalizing my anxiety, telling myself (at least 20 times a day), “Don’t let your worries about the future rob you of the joy of your present.” But the grief it harder for me to compartmentalize, because grief is a manifestation of love… And, to be clear, I want to feel this grief/love, but I also don’t yet know how not to feel at least a little shitty/guilty even in my best moments
And this is so sad to me.