Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back to Reality

Dear Stevie,
Right after hearing the news that your heart had stopped beating, I stopped living in reality. I mean, I knew everything that was going on, and I was definitely sad, but I pretty much went into shock. When I was sitting in the exam room and my doctor was explaining that you had died and that I would need to deliver you, I couldn't even cry. Dad was sobbing, my mom had tears streaming down her face, and I just sat there, in utter disbelief. Numb. As soon as the doctor left the room, Dad tried to hug me. I kind of pushed him away and said, "Mom, can you call my boss and let her know I am not going to be in today. Make sure she knows I probably won't be in on Monday either." I have no idea why, but I was very concerned about work. It didn't hit me that I wouldn't be going back that Monday. That I wouldn't be going back for awhile. That I was going to need to recover from delivering my dead child.

We went home to get some things before heading to the hospital. I can remember standing in the shower, washing my hair, thinking, "this is the last shower I will ever take with Stevie inside me." Then, I decided to blow dry and straighten my hair, something I was usually too lazy to do the majority of my pregnancy. I remember actually thinking, "I want my hair to look good in the pictures from the hospital." Clearly, what was about to happen hadn't really sunken in yet.

Once we were at the hospital, I truly went into survival mode. I was running on "auto-pilot." I really believe our bodies do this as a defense mechanism or something, to keep us from going absolutely insane and shutting down in times like these. If I had truly realized what was going on, and the enormity of the situation while I was living through it, there is no way I would been able to make it through 20+ hours of labor to deliver the daughter I knew was already dead. No way. Aside from the few moments when I was holding you, I really felt no emotions my entire hospital stay. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with and get the hell out of there. Like I said, I was not living in reality.

Once we got home, the numbness gave way to pain. A kind of pain I had never felt before. A pain so raw and intense, I felt physically sick. My heart literally hurt. For the first week after you died, I was experiencing real emotions, but I was still very far from living in reality. During the those first days, the outside world did not exist to me. I was living in my own mind. I didn't leave the house. I barely spoke. My mind was absolutely consumed with thoughts of you. I relived the moment I saw your lifeless body on the ultrasound screen over and over and over again. I was either crying or fighting back tears, all the time.

Since that first week, things have gotten progressively "better." Eventually I started venturing out of the house, first just for a walk around the block, then to the grocery store, to now where we'll go out for an entire evening. I started being able to get through an hour, and then four hours, and then almost a whole day without crying. I started hanging out with my friends again. I got a new bike and have been going on lots of bike rides with Dad. I even slowly started back at work. I thought I was back to the real world. Back to reality.

But I was wrong. I think I figured out why I've been in such a funk this week: I know that actual reality is sneaking up on me and it's only a matter of time before I'm forced back to it. For the last six weeks, I've been allowed to live in my own little world, where everything revolves around me and my grief. I've been able to go to sleep and wake up whenever I feel like it. To think about you and talk about you all the time. To spend all my time online, in what I like to call "Stevie's world" (my blog, other baby loss blogs, pregnancy/infant loss support forums, etc--all places that revolve around you). I haven't really had to deal with any real responsibilities. I haven't even had to drive myself anywhere, other than work. I've been in mourning the last six weeks. But I know I can't be in mourning forever. Eventually life must go on, I must go back to reality, and it scares the crap out of me.

I know I can't just call into work whenever I'm feeling particularly sad forever. I can't expect everyone to want to talk about you all the time forever. I can't allow Dad to do everything for me for the rest of my life. For some reason, six weeks feels like some kind of magical "cut-off" time for heavy grieving. I feel the world moving on and expecting me to come along. Up until now, I've only dipped my toes in the pool of reality, but now it's time to jump in (or at the very least wade around in the shallow end before getting my hair wet).

I've been watching at least five episodes of Law and Order SVU everyday since the day after we came home from the hospital and realized Netflix had ten seasons available to "watch instantly" through online streaming. I'm currently on episode eight of season 10. 13 more episodes and there will be no more SVU left for me to watch. 13 more episodes until reality. It's coming, I can't hold it off any longer.

I'm so scared of reality, baby. I am scared to go back to a life that doesn't revolve around you. Part of me wishes I could stay in my safe little Stevie-centered, Law and Order world forever, but I know that wouldn't be healthy. I know it will get easier and easier to live with this hole I have in my heart, but it's a hole that will always be there. It's a hole that will never be fully healed until I get to hold you in my arms again someday.

Please stay near, Baby girl. Let Mama know you're okay. I miss you so much.

Love you forever,


Lucid Anne said...

I know this, I know this down to the L&O. I feel like I've been back in "reality" for a couple of weeks now, with work and gigs etc... And it wasn't easy. Its still NOT easy. As you know from my blog, I had to escape to the bathroom at work yesterday and bawl. And I know its not the last time that will happen. But I can honestly say... its better this way. Keeping busy. At least that's how it feels today. Yesterday I would've told you reality could go fuck itself.

Mommy Gator said...

I posted an award for your blog on my site! I love everything about your blog! Thanks so much for sharing!

Jill said...

I have tears reading this. It is hard when we finally realize that reality is sneaking up on us. There is no getting around it. Be patient with yourself as you navigate through this grief. Thinking of you!

Antoinette said...

My heart is broken from this post....Thinking of YOU is an understatement. 6 weeks is still so fresh...reality is an awful thing during grief...just take it as you have one hour, to one day at a time...I think you are doing great!!

the2weekwait said...

In times like these, when things are so emotional and so wildly unfair, I like to make a list of every little thing that makes me happy: balloons, lollipops, The Golden Girls, getting a manicure, and of course, RuPaul's Drag Race (I'm telling you... drag queens that never talk about trying to conceive -- C'MON! That's gold!). I hope you make a list of all the little things that make you smile and I hope it helps at least a little. Any which way, you obviously have a lot of people supporting you and rooting for you so please count me in as another. -- Jay

Dana said...

A usual, your posts hit so close to home with me. It was heartbreaking to read the events of "that" day you found out and how you have felt since. I also had times where I felt numb after hearing the news and waiting to deliver and I wondered if others would think that I wasn't crying as much as I should be, that I wasn't reacting the way people thought I should react...I was just so numb and in shock. I don't know how I got through answering the questions about my health while being admitted. I was also concerned about work and kept saying that I would probably be in that Thursday or Friday (I found out Jacob died on a Monday and I gave birth on a Tuesday morning). I don't know how I could have thought that - I took 2 weeks off and I am still in a bit of a fog at work.

I have also relived the whole experience, from the moment I was told my doctor couldn't find his heartbeat until the moment I left the hospital without Jacob. It is like a movie that plays again and again and again and I remember something new every time I think about it.

Going back to reality sucks. How can people be moving on and living their lives as if this never happened? It is so strange when I hear people at work laughing about something or discussing something that seems so trivial now, but that I would happily have talked about a month ago.

I wish I had some encouraging words for you. All I know is that everyday gets a little bit better, granted with lots of just plain bad days in between the better days, but eventually it has to get good most of the time, right?

Thinking about you a lot today and this past week.


Mrs. Mother said...

I didn't watch Law and Order. I watched Golden Girls. There were seven seasons, and I watched them over and over again continuously. They kept me from reality of realizing that the world goes on.

The one part of reality that I hated was that the world seemed to go while I was stuck in this tragedy. People were out doing every day ordinary things, and I wanted it to stop. It didn't seem right for life to go on after we lost Jenna, but it did.

You will get there. Almost two years out, I still miss Jenna. I still wish she was here with us, but I don't cry every day even though I do think of her every day. Big hugs to you.

Violet1122 said...

The day I found out there was no more heartbeat, I spent 8+ hours playing a dumb 3 dollar game called Ranch Rush on my computer. The couple of times I stopped to go to the bathroom, etc. I would physically start shaking. So I ran back to my computer and kept playing that mindless game. Now when I think about it, is seems so ridiculous. But that was what I needed to do that first day.

You're going to make a "new normal" life. You already know things will never go back to the way they were. But "new normal" is OK. Things will fall into place little by little.

Big hugs to you! I'm sure your little Stevie is cheering you on.

Maggie said...

I also remember all those feelings of complete numbness at the hospital. My parents and husband were actually worried because I wasn't crying as much as them. And I also remember being worried about work above anything else! I don't know why, but I had to let them know I wasn't coming in that day. Six weeks is still so fresh. Take your time and be patient. It's hard to go back to "reality" and act like you're living normally. No matter what though, Stevie will always be a part of your everyday life, no matter what you do. XO

The Griegers said...

I got chills reading your post. How you described your learning of Stevie's death. I was the exact opposite of you, I was sobbing and throwing things and yelling at everyone. Seeing our childs lifeless body on the ultrasound screen was a horrible moment that I replayed again and again as well. My husband went into survival mode just like you, if it wasn't for him I never would have gotten through the horrible time at the hospital or the days and weeks after. He was my rock, i dont know how he did it. I realized this past Thursday that it has been 8 weeks...EIGHT. That number made me realize that life does have to go on and I cant wallow in my own pity for the sake of myself and those who love me. I haven't gone back to work nor do I ever want to but reality does come back to our lives eventually and we will need to learn to deal with it just as we are slowly learning to deal with living without our children. Hugs to you...

Hannah Rose said...

wow. My heart breaks for you, dear one. The way you described that pain right when it first happened, so raw, so fresh. I too remember the shock. I couldn't cry either at first. It definitely seems like a defense mechanism, just to be able to go on. I like what you said about living in 'Stevie World.' I wish I could stay in 'Lily World.' Grieving, blogging, and talking about Lily all I want has been so wonderful, so healing. I hate that life has to move on. I just hate it. Thinking of you... :(

Brie said...

I too play it over and over in my head..I went back to work just 7 days post partum because I wanted to "be strong" and not let my grief define me, but I think I did myself a huge diservice by ignoring my true need for a couple of soft pillows to bury my face in and scream/cry as long as I needed too. So, I guess what I am trying to say is that you can't rush reality either..You will get back to it when the time is right.

Michelle said...

My pastor told me something that makes a lot of sense to me and maybe could be helpful to you.
"The hole in your heart will go away; but there will always be a scar. Scars are reminders. You don't really want to forget -- do you? And you don't REALLY want to not hurt for the loss of Liam, do you? Not hurting would be inhuman. Emotional pain is something animals don't seem to feel; emotional pain reminds us that we're created in the image of God. Animals don't mourn; they sniff the carcass of their baby to be sure it is dead and they leave it there, in the open; they move on to the next meal or the next mating season with no memory. God has made us to feel pain; it is part of what it means to be like God, to be created in the image of God." Pastor Chris Eshleman

Leanne said...

I love what Michelle said above.

I hate that you have to be going through all of this without Stevie there with you. That you have to be going back to reality when you should have been "in reality" all this time, planning for Stevie's arrival.

Where do you work or what do you do that you have been able to go back to work slowly? I'm so glad you've had that option!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog somehow...5 years ago this september I lost my brother. Although the situations are different they are similar. He was 24 years old. I am so sorry for the loss of your Stevie. Sharing your story is therapy for you and a help to others. I watched the Weather Channel and Home Shopping Network for a year after my brother died. You'll get back to "normal" whenever. Don't push yourself. Pray, be however you need to be whenever you need to be. God bless you and Stevie and your family! Your in my prayers!

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