Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 8

My daughter loves to dance.  Like LOVES to dance.  All the time.  With or without music.  She's a dancing fool.  She's dancing around the living room right now to the sound of passing cars and crickets.  She's adjusting to the move fairly well, I think.  With the singular exception of sleeping.

Part of it isn't her fault.  We bought a crib for Matthew three years ago, and in our move from Massachusetts somehow all the hardware mysteriously walked away.  And in the time since we disassembled the thing, the manufacturer went out of business.  I have tried in vain to cobble together hardware to put it back together, but it's becoming clear that it is an impossible task.  

We bought a second crib a while ago, but it's at my mom's house.  We have a nanny that we love in Conway, and the commute to the hospital is better from there than it is from where we moved.  It was going to be a big enough adjustment moving, I didn't want to take her away from one more source of stability.

So the point of all that is to say that we don't have a bed for Laney at the new place.  So she's been sleeping in with us.  Except that she doesn't really sleep well with us.  She wakes up constantly and wants to cuddle or play or poke me in the eye or kick me in the spine or all the other fun things toddlers want to do to make their parents miserable in the middle of the night.

I don't really have anything to talk about this evening.  So I'll babble about cribs for a while.  And dancing.  She really does love dancing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 1

It was brought to my attention that my last post could be interpreted in a way that seems to belittle people dealing with addiction.  That was absolutely not my intention.  I've never dealt with an addiction, so I'm not an expert on the subject.  I was not trying to imply that sobriety is an easy road, because I know it's not.  I've seen the affects of addiction, and I know how horrible it is.

I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with some analogy to explain the way I see it, but everything just sounds hollow and stupid.  So I'll just say that I'm sorry if I upset or offended anyone with that particular comparison.

Of course, all of this could be a massive overreaction on my part.  I mean, yes, several people did mention something about it to me, but when I'm having down days I feel like everything I do is hopelessly wrong and horrible, and that I'm a horrible person for doing/thinking/saying/feeling it.

Today was a bad day overall, and I'm not entirely sure why.  It's not like anything specifically set me off.  Maybe it was because Bug kept me up half the night.  God knows I can't function on subpar levels of sleep.  Whoever invented night terrors can go play in traffic.  It's horrible.  What in the world could make my poor 18-month-old scream and thrash around in terror like that?

I did work on completing a project today.  It's a dress for my daughter.  I still need to attach the straps, but for that I need to measure them on her.  And trying to get a toddler to stand still for measuring is about as easy as giving a jellyfish a manicure.  So we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

She's taking on something, alright.

Someone I care a lot about recently made the decision to go into rehab.  And when he told me about it, for a split second I was jealous.  Jealous.  Wow.  What?

I was jealous because he has a defined problem - an addiction.  It has a name, and it has a general path to recovery.  It's not an easy path by any means, but it's a path.  A way out.

I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager.  It was in my blood - my grandmother (whom I adored) was severely bipolar, and two of her sisters had to do ECT (for the uninitiated, that's electroconvulsive therapy).  I'm sure there are other people in my family that have struggled, but my parents are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to anything personal.  These are the people who failed to tell my brother that my dad was in the ICU following an operation (which they also didn't tell him about) and who didn't tell my sister about the death of our great-grandmother for two months because they didn't want it to upset her.  Which is fine except that 1) my sister was in college at the time and 2) my sister didn't particularly care for our great-grandmother.  Not to the extent that she would have celebrated the woman's exit from the world, but she certainly wouldn't have been driven to distraction by her grief.  This is the woman who, during her final visit with us, was so senile that the only one of us she remembered was my brother, and that was only because went with my dad to pick her up and drive her back to Arkansas from West Virginia.  She thought my sister was my brother's girlfriend and she thought I was the maid.  It was a fun visit.

My depression is one of the reasons that I go months without posting anything.  Little things, things that shouldn't even matter, pile up on top of me until I feel paralyzed.  I remember when I was in college, I would spend hours watching movies in my dorm room, because I literally was too bogged down with what I should be doing.  If I was studying, I felt like I should be practicing my clarinet (I was a music major).  If I was practicing, I felt like I should be working out.  If I was working out, I felt like I should be cleaning my room.  If I was cleaning my room, I felt like I should be at work.  If I was at work, I felt like I should be studying.  And so on and so on, until the guilt spiral pulled me under and I just sat in my room, doing nothing. Staring mindlessly at the television, not even really aware of what I was watching, just needing something to drown out the voices screaming in my head that I was a failure, that I was letting everyone down, that I wasn't good enough or smart enough or whatever enough to deserve to be happy.

The worse part about depression is that there isn't a clear path out.  Not even a general guideline.  There's no demon rum or demon drug - it's just your own broken brain.  And the cure can be worse than the disease in terms of side effects and long-term exposure and all that jazz.  It's an invisible enemy who already knows your playbook.

I guess that's part of the reason I was envious of my friend in rehab.  Being in rehab is a socially acceptable thing.  You can tell people you went to rehab, and they are generally sympathetic.  And if you bow out of a cocktail party because you're a recovering alcoholic or decline pain medication at the dentist because of a pill problem, it's totally understandable.  But if you bow out of the party because you hate everything and everyone on that particular evening, or if you decline the meds because you're afraid that in a weak moment you'll down the entire bottle, people look at you like you're crazy.  And God forbid you ever seek any kind of inpatient treatment.  People find out you've spent time in a psychiatric facility and they lock their doors and stop giving you knives at cookouts.

I've been profoundly unhappy lately, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it.  I want to make some changes in my life, and I know how hard it's going to be.  I've always worked better with a solid goal in mind, so my psychiatrist suggested I set some goals for myself.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.  I want to document my progress (or lack thereof).  I want to have some kind of record of the successes and failures, because as with anything, if you identify the source of the problem you can fix it.  Maybe I have triggers in my life that I don't even realize.  Maybe this will help me find them.

I like symmetry in my life, so I've settled on six.  Six goals in six weeks.  Not necessarily one per week.  Some will take more effort than others.

The six goals that I have chosen are:
1.  Finish five previously-started craft projects.  I have dozens of half-finished projects scattered around the house.  I need to pick five - any five - and finish them completely.
2.  Kick my sugar addiction.
3.  Invest in myself.  This one's a little more complicated to explain, but I'll post more later on it.
4.  Post in this blog at least three days a week.  I know I won't post every day.  Especially on days when I work.  I'm so exhausted by the time I get home that I barely have time to kiss the baby before I fall asleep.  But three days is totally doable.
5.  Meet five new people.  I'm one of those incredibly awkward extroverted introverts.  I'm totally cool with being the center of attention for five minutes, but I'll need three days alone with my kid and my thoughts to recover.  I'm also painfully awkward in social situations.  But I need to step outside my comfort zone.
6.  Learn a new skill.  Take a class in something.  Preferably something that involves physical activity.

So yeah, some of those are going to be easier than others.  The sugar one is going to be a killer.  But I'm determined to make it work.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Best laid plans

I had this great idea that for Lent I would try blogging every day.  To give myself an outlet, I guess.  Problem is that since I started working nights, my schedule is so messed up that I can't even remember which days are which.

I started working at a hospital since my last blog post.  And I had a baby girl.  Which is one of the reasons I haven't had three spare seconds to write anything of substance.  I don't know how all those Mommy bloggers do it.  I guess they write while their kiddos are napping?  But when Bug is napping, I'm usually holding her.  Or I'm napping, too.  And both of those things are more important to me than eking out time to write my particular blend of stuff and nonsense.

I've been thinking a lot about names recently.  Probably because we are rapidly approaching the second and first anniversaries of my having to bestow names upon tiny humans.  It's an incredible responsibility, and if anything, in my life I've proven time and time again that I'm not so good at being responsible.  Case in point:

This is a thing that I own.  That I paid money for.  It is a fried chicken.  Get it?  Yeah.  What responsible adult would buy something like this?  Me, that's who.

I did, however, take the naming of my children seriously.  We went back and forth for months about what our first baby's name would be.  We picked out two contenders, and decided that we'd wait until he was born to pick the right one.  But once he was born and we held him, I knew that his name was Matthew.  Matthew means 'gift from God,' and just because we didn't get to keep him doesn't mean he was any less of a gift.  The Other Half picked his middle name - Charles.  The Charles River runs through Boston, and OH wanted a name that reflected where Matthew lived.  I suppose if I ever get to the point where I can scatter his ashes, it would be fitting to do it at the river.  The Charles is a very short river, but has been pivotal in making Boston what it is today.  So, putting it all together, our Matthew Charles was a gift from God who, although he had only a brief time with us, left a permanent impression in our hearts.

I always knew that I would name my first daughter Elaine, after my grandmother.  After all, she was the woman who graced me with my love of fantastic footwear.  When it came to picking a name to go with it, OH suggested Elizabeth, which means 'the promise of God.'  Elaine means 'light.'

In the babyloss community, a rainbow baby is one born after the loss of a child.  It refers to the notion that while nothing can undo the damage left by such a loss, something beautiful can come afterward.  In the Bible, the rainbow is a symbol of God's promise to mankind never to flood the Earth again.  So putting all that together, our Elizabeth Elaine is our promise of God in light - our rainbow.

My name means 'emerald isle,' or Ireland.  But it occurs to me that the 'isle' part applies more to me than I ever realized.  I am an island - a lone mass of land in the sea.  I'm terrible at making friends - I can't count how many groups I've tried to fit in to or people I've tried to befriend.  I'm awkward and dramatic and too smart for my own good.  I was bad at it before Matthew died, and I'm worse at it now.  I don't shy away from talking about my son, and it makes some people profoundly uncomfortable.  And because of that, I am very, very lonely.

I'm not really sure where I was going with all this.  It's just one of the things I think about.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stuff and Nonsense

I have this blog, and it's supposed to be a place for me to write what I'm thinking or feeling or whatever, and I never do it.  Mostly because I'm so damn tired all the time.  Not just a little kind of needed a nap or to hit the snooze button tired, but the kind of bone-deep exhaustion that comes from trying valiantly to keep my shit together, and yet constantly being about three seconds away from a complete breakdown.

And it's not even for myself.  It's mostly because I don't have the energy to explain to people what my life is like now. No one has the time or the interest, to be honest, to learn that I consider it a great day because I've only cried twice.  And if I try to explain it to them, they just get this horrified look of pity and despair on their faces, and I end up having to comfort them.

I spend my days running around after a classroom full of three-year-olds because I couldn't get any of the hospitals around here to give me the time of day, let alone a job interview.  And when I come home, I lay on the couch and distract myself with TV or Internet or stupid games on my phone because I know myself well enough to realize that spending a lot of time inside my own head right now is a really bad idea.

And I keep all of this to myself, for reasons that I can't quite explain.  I'm not particularly looking for validation or pity or even company most of the time.  I'd give my right arm for a hour of quiet - complete, total silence, both inside my head and out.

But honestly, it's not like I'm embarrassed about my life or anything.  For the first time, I can honestly say that I couldn't care less about what anyone thinks about me or my choices or anything right now.  So what that I moved in with my parents?  My husband travels a lot for work, and no one thinks it would be a good idea for me to spend any large amount of time by myself right now.

So what if I get irrationally angry at people who still use that damned word 'when?'  I lost my 'whens' the second Matthew's heart stopped beating.  Everything is an 'if' now.  And if I have to live like that, why the hell shouldn't everyone else?

So what if I can barely tolerate being around other people right now?  I'm sorry, I just don't care to speculate on celebrity gossip or rehash old times.  I have nine hours of memory of my son.  Forgive me for wanting to keep every second of that, even at the expense of other memories.

I guess the one blessing that has come out of all this is that the idea of judging myself against anyone else in the universe right now is completely ludicrous.  Yeah, I know a lot of people that are stable in their careers and their lives and their families.  I will happily measure myself against them when they lose their child, their home, and their career at the same time.  If they haven't?  They don't compare, and they aren't allowed to judge me.  And I'm not allowed to judge myself.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Survival in my new reality

I had a really interesting conversation today.  It stemmed from a discussion about how the guy who bullied me mercilessly in elementary and middle school is a contestant on a reality show.  It's not a show I've ever watched, or even care about.  It's just really strange to see our entire freakin' town cheering this guy on when he made my life a living hell for years because I had a funny accent and didn't really know how to make friends.  I'm still not all that great at making friends, but that's really neither here nor there.

Anyway, the point of the conversation was that we have all probably forgotten about millions of good and wonderful little moments from years past, but we always manage to hang on to the rotten ones.  I can remember exactly how humiliated I felt the day that Mr. Reality Show kicked me in the face during music class, bloodying my nose and breaking my glasses.  I remember sitting on the playground trying with every molecule in my body not to cry because he told all the kids in our class not to play with me because I wasn't cool, which was the kiss of death in the 5th grade.  I remember how devastated I was when he grabbed onto my waist-length hair with a handful of chewed gum, partially because I was embarrassed about looking stupid in front of the other kids, and partially because the nurse had to cut off eight inches of my hair to get rid of it.  How many happy memories have I forgotten, only to hang on to my worst ones?

My theory is that the horrible memories stick out so prominently because, for the most part, I haven't had all that many.  I had the one bully.  I got turned down by two guys for dates in my life (and you can bet I remember every second of those events, as well).  Overall, I've had a pretty blessed life, really.

Which is why I kinda hate myself right now.  I've always been more of an optimist, looked more for the joy in life than the sorrow.  Probably because like so many other people, I suffer from depression.  I spend so much time on the down swing that I try like hell to always find the good in things when I can.  But that's just not where I am right now.

I'll be honest - for years, I could barely look at pregnant women.  I wanted that so badly, and for whatever reason, it just wasn't happening for me.  I couldn't believe that so many people who weren't as ready as I thought I was - as educated, as well-off financially, as desperate for a child, as (in my mind) fit to be a mother - were having babies left and right, and I had nothing.

And then I was pregnant.  And I could feel something other than horrible, horrible jealousy when I saw someone with their kids, or someone who was pregnant.  Because I was finally getting what I so desperately wanted.  And then Matthew died.

Now, when I hear someone talking about their impending new arrival, it takes every ounce of self-control I have not to say "Don't count on it."  Because it's horrible and bitter and that's just not who I want to be.  But right now, that's the first thing I think.  Don't count on it.  Don't talk about stockpiling diapers and having a nursery set up and ready because it is a pain that I can't even begin to describe when you have to pack it all away.  Don't bother trying to plan your life with your baby, because it makes it that much harder to pick up the pieces after your life is shattered.

The reality is that most of those women will not go through what I went through.  They will get to leave the hospital with their babies in carseats, not in urns.  They will spend their nights sleepless from hungry infants, not from soul-crushing grief.  They will dry their children's tears, not their own.  And I will never know why Matthew died or why I don't get to be a mommy right now.  That's the reality.  But it doesn't have to define me.  I survived being bullied in my childhood.  I will survive this, too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Changes and reality

One month tomorrow.

I can't even process how much my life has changed in that time.  I was prepared for changes, but not for anything like what's happened.  Going to the store is an ordeal for me.  Spending time with people outside of my family is so emotionally and mentally exhausting to me that I'd honestly rather just not leave the house.

I found a charity online that does free photo retouching for stillborn babies, so I brought the one professional picture we have of Matthew to the place here in town that is affiliated with them.  I really wanted the hospital to call Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to do Matthew's pictures - and I didn't realize until the picture arrived that it was a different service.  NILMDTS specializes in bereavement pictures, and the service that did ours takes pictures of all the babies that are born at that particular hospital.  The picture I got was beautiful, but I would have liked different shots.  Specifically one of me and the Other Half and our son.  It would have been nice to have a family picture when we had the chance.

Anyway, the picture came back yesterday.  I don't know how I feel about it.  It is amazing.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  He looks like an angel.  But in a way, seeing it makes it harder.  Seeing him in that picture was like looking into an alternate reality.  One where my precious boy lived.

I hope that anyone reading this who has children knows how incredibly, amazingly lucky they are.  I hope you appreciate every single tantrum, every messy diaper blow-out, every sleepless night.  Because there are those of us who would take it all in a heartbeat if we could.