Trauma…anger…understanding…acceptance

I am grateful. Grateful for the many gifts life has given me- health, family, work, financial stability, friends, freedom. It’s how I get through my days.  But every now and then I need to process some uglier feelings. I think it’s important to show that grief has many faces- that the instagram and pinterest-worthy grateful griever is an unrealistic ideal.  Yes- I am grateful, but I am also sad and angry and jealous and frustrated. I hate that I feel the need to preface this post- but I want people to know I”m not angry all the time…it’s just one of my feelings, perhaps the most difficult of them all.

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PTSD is common after perinatal loss. I haven’t been diagnosed with PTSD but my therapist and I talk a lot a bout how the trauma of my pregnancy with Mabel and losing her after birth still affects my daily life.  I’ve struggled with framing my daughter’s death as a trauma- I feel this immense pressure (self imposed) that since I had so much notice- months- to prepare for my baby’s likely death, I should have handled and still be handling it all better.

But the tentacles of trauma reach long and far, in ways that surprise and frustrate me. I still cannot react to pregnancy news in the way I once was able, in the way that I wish I could.  I recently learned that many of my close friends were pregnant- life events that are wonderful.  But instead of being able to share in their joy, I retreated because I found the only feelings I could express were jealousy and even anger- reactions my friends did not deserve at all.  Even though I’ve sat with these pregnancy announcements for months I still feel angry. It’s a misplaced emotion, I know.  Of course I’m not angry at my friends for being pregnant. I’m angry that my daughter died and all that came with her death. I’m still angry.

  • I’m angry that I had such a traumatic pregnancy- one emotional blow after another
  • I’m angry that I lost the blissful ignorance right away, never allowed to think “oh everything will be fine” with her pregnancy or my subsequent pregnancy- and watching others with their well deserved bliss brings up that anger.
  • I’m angry that my daughter didn’t get a baby shower. I’m angry that I cancelled the shower. I’m angry that I didn’t celebrate her more. I’m angry that I didn’t know how to, because there is no handbook on how to do what I did. Baby showers are still hard- a reminder of what I lost.  Sometimes I go, sometimes I don’t.
  • I’m angry that making mom friends is hard because bringing up my dead daughter always makes the get-to-know-you small talk awkward.
  • I’m angry that others don’t have to struggle with these issues, making me feel even more alone.

And as I grapple with this anger, I struggle with the need to rely on my friends to help me process it all and dealing with their misunderstanding.  No one has said to me straight up “waiting for and then watching your daughter die is not a traumatic event.” However people have said to me “Really? You still feel that way? Even three years later? Even after Felix?” When I hear those sentiments, I am reminded that those who have not lost a child will never understand- how could they? I’m slowly realizing I can’t expect others to understand my trauma, my reactions, my anger and my grief, as foreign and weird as they may seem. But I hope that they can accept it, as part of who I am.

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Are you angry? How do you cope?

 

 

 

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A kick in the face reminder

When I was pregnant with Mabel, we learned she had Down Syndrome at 13 weeks. From that point forward, Chris and I tried to be positive. We started making connections, reading books, attending conferences . There was certainly adjustment to be had, but we were accepting. Not long after the news, I was connected with another woman a few weeks behind me with the same Down Syndrome diagnosis. We corresponded a bit through email but we were in different places– I was moving forward with the diagnosis; she was praying for a miracle. We were cordial, but did not stay in touch.

Until now.

I received an email from her hoping to reconnect, now that we both had babies with Down Syndrome. It was a very sweet email, complete with photos, from a mom who clearly loves her child. It was well intentioned and in another world would have been welcome.

But it in this world, the one where my baby died, it hurt. It felt like a kick in the face. Just when I thought I was moving forward in my grief, learning how to live with the loss of my baby, I am reminded how cruel and unfair the world can be.

I am angry. So. Very. Angry.

I am not angry at this woman- I feel relieved that she had a living baby and that child is clearly loved to pieces. I am angry that mine never had the chance. I am angry that I said yes, accepted a difficult diagnosis and my baby still died. I am angry that I wanted to be a parent, that my pregnancy was planned and that I was ready, but my baby still died. I could go on about my anger- about how people seem to get pregnant easily, multiple times! How people think they are invincible in pregnancy, how people don’t recognize the gift that pregnancy and living children are. I could go on and on, but what’s the point?

I’m just angry that my baby died. And I didn’t need any reminders.