This week I am venturing out. Pausing for a moment and answering someone else’s questions instead of teasing through my own with a fine toothed comb. Let me give my regular readers the back story and then I’ll give any new visitors the real back story. Regs: (aka friends, family and FB followers) You may find this hard to believe but there are hundreds of moms (and dads) out there with a story very similar to mine and much to my surprise blogging about this said topic is not so unique to me. A friend of mine, a fellow babyloss club member, who I only know because of my blog, recently introduced me to a much more well-established blog that has put out a project she has titled "Right Where I Am" in which she is requesting babyloss parents to write a post about where they are right now in their grief process, whether it's been one year or five years ago. So, of course, I want to contribute, to be a part of this interesting project, however, I’m struggling with what to say since I feel like you kind of already know exactly where I am right now, since I just starting blogging right where I am right now, even though most of what I am blogging about started five years, eight months and 2 days ago. See, I didn’t really know that blogging was all the rage back then. Well, it’s quite possible that 5 years ago people weren’t blogging so much, and I’m not sure I even knew what a blog was way so long ago. So, needless to say, my story was not on the world wide web since the “beginning”. Of course I was doing the usual journaling and I even thought I might write a book. I’m thinking I got to page 2 and threw in the towel. But I digress…where was I? Oh, yes, right where I am.
I guess the best way to define where I am right now is, if I had to state it in one word would be: revisiting. Revisiting a past place of hell mostly because I thought I was healed enough to reach for a future I’ve always craved. (If you are new here, my first two posts: Enter at Your Own Risk, I'm Keeping It Real and Have You Met My Baby? will give you the quickest summary of my story). It took us a good five years after losing Wyatt to finally feel like we had put most of our grieving behind us. Five years to say that demon had finally gone. Five years to find enough peace in our hearts to reach for a dream we’ve silently harbored. A second living child. We felt like we were finally ready, healed enough to release the beast called fear and begin our final journey in creating the family of our dreams. We didn’t know if we would ever get here, but here we were, we had finally arrived. Grief had exited and we were entering a new chapter in our lives. Ah, the opportunity for new chapters. We were thrilled we had finally found the courage to start a new chapter.
Of course, my grief had settled enough for me to be this naïve again. Or maybe I had just allowed myself the opportunity to let hope lead the way. Regardless, when we lost that baby at 12 weeks, I was beating myself up that I had let myself believe that things would be easy this time. I couldn’t believe that I had foolishly convinced myself that the odds were in our favor on this one. I gave in to my worst fears and they came back in full force to find me once more. So there I sat, beginning my newest journey called revisiting. Blogging, reflecting, and frankly sometimes stewing, on how trying to create a family had become such a challenge for me. Trying to sort through my past to help me deal with my present. And now that we are pregnant again (8 weeks to be exact), revisiting has become my theme song. My naïve ways have left me once again, but I am trying to let hope guide me in this journey once more. However, history hasn’t been the kindest to me, so I am holding my breath and just desperately hoping for a miracle once more.
But back to reflecting, what has led me to where I am right now? How did I get here and what has the journey been like? The grieving process seemed to haunt me for so long. Of course, the first year or so had its usual suspects. The shock, the horror, the shame, the pain….it was exhausting, debilitating, and brutal beyond words. We got pregnant with Abigail six short months later, even though my therapist told me it was too soon. I’m not sure she got many things right, but she might have been onto something with this one. But it didn’t matter, I wasn’t listening, I didn’t care, I had to make this go away, I had to make things right, I had to fix this mess….or so I thought. So, there I was newly pregnant and newly grief stricken all in the same turn. I can’t imagine a time in my life in which I was more terrified of a reoccurring fate….or just more terrified. The conflicts of losing a life and trying to bring another into this world almost simultaneously were close to unbearable at times. But I’m not sure if I regret it. I almost think that if I would have given myself more time to work through my grief, I might not have tried again at all. If I was really thinking straight, I’m not sure the benefits would have outweighed the risks. Of course, now I know that they did, but now I have proof. And then she was in our arms and I was elated. I had been waiting so long for that opportunity to leave the hospital with my baby, just for the opportunity to carry a baby in my arms and cross that threshold out the door. I was not empty-handed this time, I did not have to leave my heart behind, she was with me and the only thing I was leaving behind were my demons of grief. Or so I thought once again. But not so much.
Although I was so grateful and fortunate to be bringing home this bundle of joy, I had no idea how challenging this parenting thing was going to be. And one of the things my friend grief did for me was make me analyze each and every move that I took as a mom to see if I was really fit for the job. As I look back, I realize how hard I was on myself. How I let my shame and guilt take over and try to run the show. I felt like I finally had the opportunity to prove to the world that I was capable of being a good mom, that I was competent in this department and I was able. Every time things didn’t go as I thought they should (breastfeeding, sleeping, potty training, all the usual challenges), my grief told me I had failed once more. This horrible ghost that wouldn’t stop haunting me, kept trying to convince me that I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t worthy of this job. That maybe I wasn’t deserving after all. It’s taken me a while to even realize that this is what I was doing to myself. I think it has been through much of my recent revisiting that I began to realize that it didn’t have to be this way, that this was the grief parenting and not me. I wasn’t like this. I didn’t care what other people thought, I didn’t have anything to prove, she was here, she was loved, end of story.
So on that note, I’ll have to conclude that although revisiting would not have been my choice, that I would rather be giving birth to that baby in two short months, that I would have skipped the pain, the heartache, the grief once more, revisiting hasn’t been all bad. First of all, this revisiting has helped me take on issues that I’ve now realized I hadn’t dealt with very well in the past. Issues such as how I handled or hid my grief, how I’ve held onto shame, or how I have let this grief monster navigate my parenting at times. Revisiting, but being further removed, has given me insight that I couldn’t have had with the freshness of my grief early on. Through this blog, revisiting has also helped me find support where I didn’t know it existed. Almost weekly someone has reached out with love and support, told me their story, how this blog has helped them, helped them to understand others, or has helped them understand me. These things are so powerful to me and help me to heal in ways I didn’t know were possible. I wish I would have known blogging 5 years ago, but I’m so glad it has found me now. And finally, this revisiting has helped me realize that I can’t hide from my life, past or present, no matter what I project on the outside. The reality is, I have grown to be a stronger, better person. Not despite of what has happened to me in my life, but because of what I have been through. I was always determined to not let the loss of my son define who I was or to determine who I would become. But I now know that he will always be a part of who I am, this experience has enhanced my being, and although it may not be defining, it is most definitely contributing in a profound way. I know I am not perfect, but I love who I am, who I have become, who I was meant to be because of the obstacles that I have had to face (although I am most definitely NOT putting a message out there that I would like more of these growing opportunities, I’m good for now.) I appreciate life, love, kindness so much more because of where I have been. There is more sunshine in my life because I have experienced darkness. I appreciate the light more now than ever. So although I am ready to put this grief behind me once and for all, I also know that I will always carry a piece of it with me. I’m beginning to accept this now, I’m finally coming to terms that this will always be a part of who I am, and I am ultimately realizing that it’s time to accept myself right where I am right now.