Our current status is that we don’t know whether we’re selling our house or doing some redecorating, so we’re kind of proceeding with both – just keeping our options open. Our latest purchase is a new dining room table and chairs and sidebar and picture. I liked our old furniture, a solid-oak Mission style set, but we decided we wanted to refresh a few things, so we sold our old set on Craigslist (with our chandelier too, because we had an extra one in our basement!) and purchased a new table from Restoration Hardware and got a steal of a deal on some chairs and sidebars from Wayfair, and my mom bought us a picture of a moose from Crate & Barrel, because apparently everyone thinks Mark looks like a moose, so they call him “moose,” and Mark isn’t above having a picture of himself in our dining room, rather he actually likes it.
Mark had to put all 12 of the chairs together, and he did this sporadically after work. Last Friday night he assembled a chair as Joel watched, and he was talking to Joel like, “Daddy’s going to screw these chairs together really tight – we don’t want anyone to fall!” And I kind of muttered from the other room, “Or do we?” And Mark was like, “Well, we might want some people to fall – it depends on who they are.” I guess we’ll have to emphasize teaching kindness later.
I’m in love with the table we ordered. It’s called the Russian Barn Wood Oak Table, or something to that effect, so we call it “Putin’s table from Putin’s barn” (I mean, how could we not? Because Putin is like always in the news, and I’ll probably be wiretapped or something for writing this…), but the style of it matches our house much better than the Mission style did. It’s a lighter color, so it brightens up the room too. Our new sidebar is made of metal, and it hasn’t arrived yet – I’m excited for it to. (I should really post some pics here, but I don’t feel like it right now, so I have one on Instagram, and I’ll post some more later…) As beautiful as our old set was – with the wood floors it just felt like too much hard wood.
Speaking of which, Mark’s parents’ dog Max visited with them this weekend, and Max has actually undergone the scrotal ablation operation, so ever since, all of the dogs like to dominate him, including Howie, and Mark was going to take a picture of this because it was cracking us up, and Mark’s dad scolded him like, “Stop – you aren’t using my dog for that Twitter porn stuff!”
On Saturday I attended a tour of a local brewery with seven other baby loss moms. They tried to make us wear goggles on the tour, and I didn’t want to wear mine because they were so smudged up, so I whispered to my friend Jen (who’s well aware of all of my anxiety struggles), “This is actually one type of thing I’m NOT anxious about – the stainless steel beer tank blowing up and perforating my eyeballs.” And Jen was like, “But if it is going to happen to a group of people, it will happen to this group.” Truth. (It didn’t though.) Also, I learned on the tour that for the movie, Escape from New York, when they wanted a post-apocalyptic New York City for filming, they chose St. Louis as their location. Haha.
Yesterday we walked through our neighborhood, and this guy (whose wife had a baby in spring of 2015) was outside, and I couldn’t acknowledge him, so I ignored him and just walked right on by, kind of aggressively (like fast, purposeful steps), and I told Mark and his parents, “It just makes me feel better to be a bit rude to them.” And Mark’s dad was like, “I understand.” And I really, REALLY appreciated his compassion rather than him trying to talk me out of my feelings. Like it was so appreciated. Did I mention how much I appreciated it?
I’m still breastfeeding, but I’m down to three feedings per day, and Joel eats formula for his other feedings, and I’m also no longer pumping. I’m not sure how and when to stop completely though… It’s confusing the hell out of me.
I think almost everyone I follow on Instagram is a baby loss mom. Sometimes, I’ll see a picture of a dead baby and just start crying my face off, because it is one of the saddest things in the whole wide world. And then, a few seconds later, I’ll almost re-realize that this is my life too, and this realization hits me so hard. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience.
Today we showed our house to a couple who’s interested in buying it. This couple assumed we had two living kids (not sure why – we never said we did). So this couple stepped into our foyer, and literally, the first thing the guy asked was, “Oh, where’s your other kid?” And Mark was like, “Well, we do have two kids, but one of them died.” And then the woman was like, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and she gave me a hug. And then she was like, “I know someone else whose baby died at daycare.” (WHY ALL THE ASSUMPTIONS?) So then I told her Matthew’s story (as quickly as possible). And she was like, “Can’t they see that (the cord) on the ultrasound?”
And I had to explain, “Well, they can see it, but they choose not look at it…” And I have to explain this to people all of the time, because no one can believe that doctors in America in 2017 don’t use ultrasound equipment to its full capacity… So yes, a similar tragedy could happen to any baby at any time. But I always wonder what people are thinking, because, although true, this really makes no sense whatsoever.
As Joel continues to grow I find I’m sometimes feeling Matthew’s absence even more strongly, because Joel is now at an age when I think he’d really notice, and enjoy, an almost two-year-old running around. Joel fills our house with noises (mamamamama is my favorite!) and shrieks and laughter, but lately the house feels so quiet regardless, because they should both be here. Joel is super sweet and cuddly and so innocent. I frequently think about the day he might start to comprehend that his brother is dead. My heart breaks thinking about how his heart will break – I’m sure it won’t break immediately, because at first he won’t understand, but at some point it will break, and this is heartbreaking.
At March support group some baby loss moms with older children (but not much older) were discussing how to broach the topic of death with children. One mom explained that a child psychologist recommended that she be truthful and clear (i.e. say things like, “Your brother and sister is dead/died” as opposed to, “Your brother/sister isn’t with us, but kind of also is with us – like kind of an angel…). I think this is good advice, but it will certainly be difficult regardless, and I’m so pissed off that this is our reality.
Last Wednesday I had what I’d consider to be a legit panic attack with physical symptoms. Like I went to work and, minute by minute, I began to feel increasingly nervous to the point that I sat at work for four hours and didn’t complete any tasks, rather I just stared at my computer screen googling scary things. I eventually bolted from my desk in tears, and upon reaching the parking garage called Mark and then my mom to tell them that I can’t live this way anymore and screamed in complete hysteria that Matthew’s death was my fault. (I often feel much like how this blog post describes.) It took me several more hours to get my anxiety under control.
I think I need to be on something (read: heavily medicated), but I’m scared to be for obvious reasons. I’m also wondering if a therapist who specializes in PTSD might be better than one who focuses on grief. I just don’t know – I feel kind of desperate sometimes… I’m almost always thinking dark and intrusive thoughts. I can be acting completely normal, laughing over dinner even, but, probably 95 percent of the time, I’m thinking about death (either Matthew’s death or someone’s future death). It’s getting very overwhelming.
I had dark and intrusive thoughts before Matthew died, but I was always able to shut them down. Now I can’t shut them down – I’ve lost the ability. Because my biggest fear came true, despite odds being in my favor or whatever. It feels like all the bad will happen to me – I’ll always be the statistic.
I’ve had a hard time writing lately – I’ve been in a writer’s slump of sorts… They say the most disturbed people (like Edgar Allen Poe maybe?) write the best shit, and so, in the early days it seemed the words flowed easily. I think I’m still super fucked up, but maybe in new ways recently… Like the anxiety is pushing the grief to the side a little bit, which means I’ll probably crash hard with grief sometime over the next month or so, and then I’ll have a crap ton of words to write.
Right now Mark is asking me to write a letter to our municipality’s governing people about some zoning stuff to win us some good favor with someone involved in the building process (in case we ever build again) and also prevent developers from building skyscraper houses on tiny lots in our neighborhood (which I’m against for sure), so I guess I’ll try to whip something up.