Self-pity, my old friend

The walls that have comforted me these last months have now become too snug, and I find myself wallowing in self-pity today. I will have to fight and claw to get out of it.

The walls surrounding my pit are full of reminders of two big things I don’t have, with plenty of outside light poking in on them that reinforce these gaps in my life. Naturally, this inspires me to feel jealous of my friends, and like a failure.

I was supposed to be pregnant at Christmas. And, the Virgo that I am, had marvellous fantasies and visions of what this year’s holiday season would be like. I was supposed to have a big, round belly. Christmas chatter was supposed to be about the exciting impending birth of my son, with treats and surprises waiting for him under the tree. Dinner would have consisted of a sly sip of wine, followed by a giggle that I was getting my baby drunk.

The beautiful falling snow outside my window is a painful reminder that I can drink as much wine as I want this year, that my regular winter coat will fit me just fine, and that there will be no presents under the tree for Henry, who was supposed to be born a month after Christmas.

My attempt at motherhood is a failure. Something I have wanted for a very, very long time.

Image courtesy of https://i2.wp.com/2.bp.blogspot.com/-MPBNwHogBFY/T6drPuzd2_I/AAAAAAAAAiY/SfiarT1apzs/s1600/empty+crib.jpg

Add to this my unemployed status. I’m a writer and editor, and I really enjoy working in communications. But all the jobs I see available in my town right now are for administrative positions. Which is fine. But I’ve become a snob. I selfishly want to be employed in the field that I worked hard to be in.

I’m in professional limbo. I feel somewhat ready to re-join the workforce, but I’m worried that I’ll be sloppy and have a wandering mind. I’m very capable of being professional and to not mix emotions and home life with work. But I’ve never had to incorporate the death of a child into my psyche before and put it in a safe place to look at once I’m back home for the day. What if I can’t do it? What if I’m not ready, and forging headlong into it will be professional suicide? Where can I fit in?

I see my friends working every day. Happy, or at least content. Innocent from the tragedy that I’ve experienced, and all I feel able to do is stare at my own belly button and let the world close in around me, welcoming the laughing, pointing finger that highlights two big holes in my life.

Self-pity isn’t a stranger to me. He announced himself this morning, laughing while hurling me in to my wallowing pit. He mocks me in a loud, confidant, booming, all-too-familiar voice that the two things that have always meant a lot to me aren’t a part of my life, even though they’re just out of reach. He points out that that’s exactly it – I’m not a mother to a living child, and the degrees hanging on my wall are just pieces of paper. All this work – nurturing a child who didn’t live, and earning an education that has not landed me a stable job. It has been for nothing. You can have this day, self-pity, but you can’t stay.

 

Gratitude through grief

When I lost my dad eight years ago, I was a daughter mourning her father. My mother was mourning her husband, and my grandmother/aunt/cousins mourned him in their own way according to the relationship they had with him.

As I mourn Henry’s death, I feel so fortunate to be grieving the loss of the same relationship with my partner. I hate having something so painful in common with him, but we draw a lot of comfort from each other. He has been my rock, and a constant source of love and support.

We’re together, but separate, mourning in our own individual ways. Some people pour themselves in to work to restore a sense of control and normalcy after something as devastating as losing a child. My partner had no choice but to start working pretty much right away because of deadlines, etc. I can’t do that, but I’m lucky to be a freelance writer with a bit of cash in the bank to help me coast for a little while. This means I don’t have to rush back to a job if I’m not ready, and my editors are kind enough to give me the time I need to feel ready to write professionally again (if any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart).

I rely on my fingers to fly across the keyboard for my livelihood. But in the first days after learning Henry’s diagnosis, and the days following his delivery and death, I couldn’t make sense of my computer. I misspelled everything, got confused, and just closed up shop, only writing to a few friends to tell them the news. I let go of all of my commitments (even a beloved pottery class), and just existed (I don’t mean to sound like this is in past-tense… I’m still just a breathing, sitting blob).

Through the past two weeks, I have also been floored by the graciousness and generosity of my friends and family. This has been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life.

This post is about other things that I am thankful for.

We received a beautiful bouquet flowers from my old workplace, and I don’t know how many meals from friends and family, left innocently on our front porch. And I thank you for each fork-full that I didn’t have to cook myself, each kind thought, and every card that has passed through our door.

Thank you DSF

I’m also very appreciative of my friends, who have been so kind and decent as to leave my partner and I in peace with our pain. We haven’t received any surprise drop-in visits or any mournful, uncomfortable phone calls. We’re still not ready, but we’re getting there, and we thank you so much for your patience while we stay in our cocoon.

We have literally been hiding, spending days in bed. I feel that I’ve made some progress because I’ve been camping out on the sofa rather than our bed – which is getting kindof grimy and full of crumbs. But we’re exhausted, even though our days are very sedentary.

I’m also trying to find the motivation to take care of myself now that I no longer have a baby to keep me eating healthy and exercising. While I was pregnant, Henry gave me every motivation for self-maintenance, like flossing and eating veggies and completely cutting out coffee and wine.

Now that my belly is empty, I find it hard to care whether I eat in a day, floss, or do other regular self-maintenance tasks. I’m thankful for my mom, who has gently urged me to speak with my naturopath to make sure I don’t go completely off the rails, and who is arranging that I get a massage eventually. Maybe one day in the far distant future, I’ll even get a hair cut and go for a walk in the day time.

Lastly, I’m very thankful to whoever is reading my blog. It is my hope that other grieving parents, no matter how you lost your child, reads these so that they feel they’re not alone.

With love and gratitude,

Mel