The anger-sadness balance

On New Year’s day I sat on my couch, scrolling through my old facebook posts. I was looking for my New Years post from the previous year as a comparison to how I felt this year. A year ago I thought I had been through the biggest rollercoaster of my life- finding out I was pregnant, learning about Mabel’s Down Syndrome, embracing and preparing to raise a child with special needs and then learning my baby’s birth defects might not be compatible with life. It was, at the time, the worst year of my life. I was unsure how 2014 would turn out and low and behold it turned out to be worse. Some beautiful moments- the birth of my daughter followed by the darkest, her death and the grieving that came with.

In my scrolling, I came up across the posting about her birth and death. In reading the words I had written and gazing at the photos above them, I was struck by sadness. I couldn’t believe that it all had actually happened. That I actually had a baby. That she actually lived. That there was a moment when she had been placed, warm and goopy on my belly just seconds after birth. That she lay quite still on a warmer, struggling to breathe despite numerous tubes and interventions. That we actually had to tell the doctors that we were ready- ready to let her die. That she actually died. That we actually buried her.

Tears ran down my cheeks. Wanting to really let myself really feel the sadness, I then pulled up the video I had made:

I cried and I cried. I also cried because I realized how long it had been since I cried like that. I have just been so angry, there hasn’t been any room in me for sad. I know more sad is needed, but I can’t seem to force it. So how do I do it? How do I balance anger and sadness? How do you?

New Year, New Necklace

 

My cousin asked me “Do you have any New Years Resolutions?”

I quickly answered, “No.”

But I’ve been thinking about this more as the days pass. I was never much one for resolutions. I do remember making some in college- one of which was to be nicer, which several of my friends are adopting this year (though I find it a little humorous, because they are my friends. I think they are nice anyways). A lot of people put exercise on their resolution list, and as much as I support good exercise, I sometimes get a little annoyed because, as a regular gym goer regardless of the season, my familiar territory becomes super crowded. As this article suggests, priorities change after trauma and loss and they can be reflected in our resolutions. Yes, I may vow to eat more vegetables, but I’ve been doing that everyday- New Year’s doesn’t change that for me. Instead, despite my quick response to my cousin, I might have a few resolutions.

 

When I first lost Mabel I was so hungry for support, especially from people who had been through something similar. I joined lots of facebook groups-Down Syndrome Bereavement Group, Grieve Beautifully, Loss Parents Walking Alternative Paths, All That Love Can Do <3, Remembering Our Babies After Stillbirth/Neonatal Loss and Life After Loss of your Baby/ Surviving Stillbirth/Neonatal Loss. These groups helped me immensely in the beginning, but I’ve found they bring me down lately- a lot of people in stages of grief that are painful for me to observe. So I’ve stopped following them.

 

I’m taking down Mabel’s sign at work. I originally put it up to help ease the burden of people asking about the baby and saying painful platitudes in response to the answer. Plus, I’m not sure people are reading it anymore. I still get an occasional “How’s the baby?” and I can now easily say, “I have sad news…” I can do it without being tearful and can redirect the conversation back to the patient. Oddly, I don’t always want to talk about her in the exam room anymore. I still have one month of overlap- last January I was heavily pregnant and so I may still see some patients who saw me last with child and they may ask, but now I’m readier.

 

I’m going to work on my anger. I find it’s turned me into a bitter, jealous person. Recently at my December babyloss support group, my anger was evident and there were new people at the group. Though it’s a safe space to be able to express our feelings, I fear that my anger scared some of the new people who are far earlier in their grief. I also heard of someone I know who not long ago had a miscarriage- and my thoughts about it were horrific. I, who supports loss is loss, had trouble finding sympathy because this person had a living child. I was angry that she had even tried for two children when I’m still waiting for one living one. What kind of mean, bitterness is that? It’s not who I want to be.

 

I’m going find some peace at work. I constant fear, especially as the one year anniversary approaches, that my job will pressure me to go back to doing call. All I can say is I’m not ready right now (will I ever be?). I need to address this fear so I can continue my job peacefully.

 

I’m wearing a new necklace. I have been so kindly gifted many necklaces for Mabel. The first one I received I immediately put on and wore every day since, despite the little carrot charm falling off every now and then.

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So I received a new one- very similar with the carrot, but this one with color.

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I think it reflects how I want to feel this year- adding a little more color into my life. Embracing gratitude, be less angry, finding some peace.

 

So my resolutions? New year, new necklace.

Do you have any resolutions?

The changing of the years

Last year my New Years facebook post was

“2013, you were rough. 2014, who knows what you will bring,”

and I linked my blog publically for the first time. Now that a full year has passed, I keep thinking how I want to reflect on the past year and approach this new year. 2014 brought me Mabel, which of course was wonderous. But save for a few moments when I thought she might actually live it was so very painful. It was a dark dark year for me, despite the outpouring of love and support I received in the wake of my daughter’s death. I still have thoughts that I’m ashamed of. I still have trouble letting myself be happy. I could go on enumerating all the wonderful things people have done in memory of Mabel and in support of Chris and I. I could further go on listing all the struggles I have had. But right now, after a multi day GI virus and the fatigue of the first holidays without my girl (hence the blogging absence), I am tired. So today I simply sum up my thoughts on the changing of the years.

 

2014, you were rough. 2015 please be kind.