Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Even Your Child Can Hurt Your Feelings

March 30, 2011

I’ve now spent about five days on bed rest and it’s really boring. We have a little sitting room in our bedroom with an entertainment center, love seat, and balcony and that’s nice because it means that I can lie on the sofa and don’t necessarily have to stay in bed all day, but it still stinks. What’s especially hard is that until Mom or Pete comes back Sam has to stay in there with me. Thankfully, he’s been sleeping late so when he wakes up I just turn on the cartoons for him or he stays there on the bed with me and draws. It has to be boring for him, too, though.

Tonight he got upset with me because I couldn’t go downstairs and play with him. I know that he was bored because Mom was busy packing, Pete was on the computer, and I was upstairs. I wish he had someone to play with. But when I told him that I couldn’t come he told me that I “needed to die.” It really hurt my feelings and made me cry. It made him cry, too, and he told me that he was joking but it still hurt.

He’s been asking a lot about Toby lately and last night we watched “One Born Every Minute” and he was riveted. He loves seeing the babies and he asked me a lot of questions about “Baby Sister” and her upcoming birth. We’ve actually not talked about her a lot with him in case something happens but the closer we get, the more we share with him. I think he’s starting to get excited, but I know it’s still difficult for him. To him, a baby represents death and there’s just no way to change it at this point. Once she gets here and he sees that she’s not going to die I think things will get better.

I mostly don’t talk about these things to people because it’s hard and they don’t know what to say. And then they do say things and it just comes out wrong or harsh. I was talking to one of my aunts the other day, for instance, and when she asked how I was doing I told her that we were just trying to stop the labor at this point. To this she replied, “Well, it was probably that trip to Myrtle Beach that made this happen.” Well, gee, thanks. (And it wasn’t.)

I don’t want to get angry at people for trying to be optimistic and trying to make me feel better, but there’s a line between being optimistic and dismissing valid concerns, too. We’re going to start steroid shots at 30 weeks to help develop the lungs and our best goal is to make it to 32 weeks. If we can make it that far then we have scheduled a C-section at 37 weeks. Even 32 weeks, though, is kind of risky. I have a friend who delivered at 32 weeks and her son is doing okay now but it was touchy there in the beginning. I have another whose son was born at 36 weeks like Toby and he spent a month in the NICU. (We were lucky with Toby in that regard.) But just because things were okay for one person doesn’t mean that they will be okay for another. I understand this. But telling a person that things will be “fine” is kind of like saying, “What are you worrying about?” Sometimes I want to retort something like, “Yeah, things should be fine. But you put your children in bed every night and they wake up the next morning, too.” Once something bad like this has happened, you kind of lose your innocence about such things and it’s hard to go back to that again.

I guess what it's hard to explain to other people is that while they have been concerned about their children and worried about them, we've actually had the worst thing that could happen, happen. Once that has occurred, it's very very difficult to go back to believing that nothing bad can happen again.  And no amount of pep talks, statistics, or optimism can change that. 

When they told me last week that Iris might be born that night and live as long as a couple of hours I wanted details. Would they let me hold her? Could I give her a bath? Would she suffer? I thought about my camera in my hospital bag and was glad that I had brought it because I wanted to take pictures of her. I know that it sounds morbid, but it was better for me to be prepared then to have it happen and not use or take for granted the little opportunity that I had with her.  Obviously, I was glad that things didn’t turn out that way, but having a plan made me feel better. I thought about songs I could sing to her, a story I could tell, and what I would say to her. I thought it might be easier to think about those things beforehand then to wait until she was there and I was emotionally distraught and didn’t know what to do.

Other people said, “Oh, things aren’t going to be that bad! Everything will turn out fine!” But they didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. But I would have given anything to have had some advanced warning with Toby so that I could have held him longer, talked to him, done things to comfort him. I didn’t want to have regrets like that a second time. They let Mom hold him before they took him to Frankfort for the autopsy and at that point I had already said goodbye to him. I didn’t know that I was even allowed to hold him or I would have. So I am asking more questions this time.

I’m considering writing a book about my experience with grief. Titles I have considered are “My Kid Died and I’m a Little Bitter”, “You Can’t Be Selfish in Grief” and “Losing a Child and Trying to Survive Other People.”

1 comment:

Peter said...

People suck. I'm also tired of understanding. i don't like having to tell myself to to complain because people won't get it, or feeling guilty because this is the worst thing that could have happened and I don't feel like 'moving on' from it.

I wish I could have held Toby again, but at the time I also felt afraid to.

I like the first title, but I'm like that.