Letting myself have fun

A year ago I spent a friend’s birth trying to bowl with my very pregnant belly. It was one of the last hurrahs before going into the hospital. Chris and I joked around, standing back to back, me 32 weeks pregnant with Mabel, he with a bowling ball under his shirt. I bowled terribly, blaming the offset in my balance. Overall, I had fun.

This year that same friend’s birth rolled around and we found ourselves at the same bowling alley, reliving the same birthday celebration. With the holidays often interrupting many of our social schedules, it was nice to be among the larger group of friends again. As I sat down and put on my bowling shoes, with plates of every kind of fried food sitting before me, I decided I was going to have fun. Being in celebratory situations have often been difficult after my child died. Can I have fun? Will people think I am over Mabel? If I have fun, will I be forsaking her? As I pledged on one of babylossmamma’s posts, I am trying to let myself have fun, without too much guilt. It is a fine balance because I still worry that people will think I’m fine, I’m “healed” (I have another whole post in the making about what I think of that word), that I’ve moved on. My therapist asks me, what am I afraid will happen? The best answer I can come up with is that my support will go away. I still need lots of it. I struggle with anger, sadness, jealousy, hurt on a daily basis and need people to recognize that and cut me some slack sometimes. For the most part they have. I hope that can continue.

And of course, Mabel still came up that night amidst all the fun. A friend brought his girlfriend- someone I’ve simply met before but didn’t get to know. She was simply a ball full of pleasantness. Sweet and interested. We made lots of small talk. Since I was bowling remarkably well, I felt the need for her to understand it was a fluke- that last year, I was terrible. I blamed it on being big and pregnant, but secretly I’m usually not very good. We talked about where we were from, went to school, etc. And then she asked innocently, “so how many kids do you have?” My stomach dropped- but for such a different reason than it used to when asked this question. My baby died and I can say that now. I just felt so bad for her that I was about to drop this bomb on her, turning this lighthearted conversation into something inevitably sad.

“I had a baby last year and she died after birth. So none living at the moment.” I smile din the best way that I could- trying to show that yes, I’m sad, but I’m not going to go to pieces right at this moment.

She did all the right things, reaching out, touching my arm, saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

She was then at a loss for words and so as I often do, I tried to fill the space.

“It’s ok…. Wait, no, it’s not ok that she died, but it’s ok that you asked. Thank you.”

And then it was my turn to bowl. So despite all my fun, Mabel was still there, present and with me.

Do you let yourself have fun? Without guilt? How does it turn out?

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13 thoughts on “Letting myself have fun

  1. I like how you handled that — “it’s not ok that she died, but it’s ok that you asked.” What a lovely phrase, I’m going to have to steal it! I’m also glad you were able to have fun at your friend’s party. I’m trying to let myself have fun, but I’ve struggled with big groups – probably because the big groups I hang with are primarily family docs, so the chat tends to drift towards subjects that are traumatic and triggering.

    But, I just joined MeetUp yesterday, and I’m hoping to meet some new friends who do not routinely, casually chat about birth and death. I also skipped weddings last year (having lost not just my son, who would have been dapper in a baby bow tie, but also my adult date!). I’m planning to go to them this year, even if I end up going stag. Fingers crossed that it will go well!

    • Hi Kaitlynva. I just read your blog yesterday and left a few comments. I was drawn to it because we have more than a few similarities- lost our ‘adult dates”, then braved determinedly through single mom-to-be phase only to lose our firstborn children (your DS Sacha and my DD Sinza) at the beginning of last year, and we both work in medical environments, am a Researcher in vaccines and Immunization, so I am talking babies all day long! I hope to keep following your progress as we both pick up the pieces of this puzzle called life. xxxCelian

      • So glad you found my blog, Celian, and I’m so sorry about the loss of Sinza and everything else that you’ve been through. I replied to your comment over at my blog but not sure if it messaged you. Finding some sense of community in all of this has been a challenge and a blessing, and I’m thankful that you found me!

    • I was pleased that I said it how I wanted. there are so many times I wish I could have a re-do, but this wasnt one of them. steal away!

      My friend group has totally changed too. I still really just hang around kid free people (save a friend or two who have older kids- and even they are special because they are either babyloss or a midwife who gets babyloss.) I TOTALLY get the thing about weddings. I’ve been to two since Mabel died and they were both hard- thinking how it was supposed to be different. I didnt really dance at either. I LOVE dancing at weddings but I couldnt let myself go. The first wedding- eight weeks after Mabel (and I was in it) I cried a lot, a LOT. So I get the difficulty of going. hope you are able to find some enjoyment in going. and for what it’s worth, I’m totally picturing sacha in a cute little bowtie!

  2. I like your phrase, too. And I remember so well worrying what others would think when I was laughing. That they might not see the undercurrent of grief in everything I do. By now, I think that my friends will understand – and those who don’t wouldn’t if I didn’t have fun either.

    • Yes- thats totally something I am constantly working on with my therapist- why I”m so worried about others thinking I’m happy/better/healed. I think its about support and validation- I still want people to recognize how freakin hard this is!

  3. I so relate to that. I have the same worries — looking like i’m doing “too good”, looking like i’m over it if i have fun… it’s an ongoing struggle. You seem to be doing a really good job at having fun while acknowledging Mabel is with you even then. (and i too really like that phrase.)

  4. Congratulations on taking the step to go out and have some fun. I have been sitting on the fence. For example, I will go for a friend’s wedding (as a show of loyalty) but I will sit and enjoy my drinks at the table without join in the dancing. And often I will leave early. How much longer can I keep this up? I don’t know.

    • I feel the same way about the dancing at weddings. THe first after Mabel, I think I danced one slow song with my husband and cried during it. (it didnt help that any time I almost got the nerve to get on the dance floor a largely pregnant woman seemed to take that time to dance too). THe second one I went to I dance a few more slow dances, and without tears, but still couldnt get up and bust a move like I usually do. THe last time I really danced at a wedding I was 30 weeks pregnant with Mabel and even though I knew her poor prognosis, I had fun dancing and using my belly as a prop. SOmeday I’ll dance again for reals at a wedding, the time will come. As I’m sure it will for you too.

  5. I totally relate to your experience – does allowing myself to have fun mean I am over Hugo, that I am healed? And what does ‘healed’ mean, anyway? It sounds like you incorporated your Mabel into the evening, which is lovely. I loved your phrase “It’s ok…. Wait, no, it’s not ok that she died, but it’s ok that you asked. Thank you.” – well handled. I may steal it! x

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