Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How are you doing.....

I've been thinking about his a lot over the past several days. I'm wondering how I really am doing. I always say "great" or "pretty good" or "fine", but I never say "Pretty terrible, actually, but thanks for asking."

I wonder, how is a mother of a dead baby supposed to act? I wake up every morning, get out of bed, go to the gym. I eat a healthy breakfast with my husband. I go about my day like I think a normal person should, and go to work. Blah, blah, blah. My hair hasn't turned stark white from the grief, I haven't gone mad. But I've realized that I'm just numb. I'm going through my day like a robot--wake up, gym, work, trash tv, bed, wake up, gym, work, trash tv, bed, do it again.

I can't drive in my car without talking on my cell phone--I think too much if I'm alone, and then I cry all the way to work. I can't go to church without crying. I used to really enjoy Redbook--I've found that Cosmo has no baby stories, so that's my new favorite. I don't watch the morning news anymore--they sneak in stories about TomKat spawn--I watch Lifetime and TV Land, not much baby talk on the Golden Girls or Green Acres. Every minute and every hour of the day is consumed with thoughts of my son. I'm obsessed with getting pregnant again, even though I know that it's going to be the longest, most stressful nine months of my life.

My girlfriends call and I don't return their calls. I'm so damn lonely, yet I refuse to talk to anyone. Or maybe it's just giving the effort to pick up the phone and having the energy for a conversation that I'm incapable of. I go back and forth thinking "they love me, that's why they're giving me space" and "they don't even know what to say to me, I'm too depressing, they don't want my bad freaking luck to rub off on them".

I think about how exciting it is that we are buying a new house and I am so thankful that we were able to do this, to make a fresh start. I've been thinking a lot about the room that I plan to make a nursery. I think about paint colors, curtains. After Nate died, and we had to take down his crib and pack up his clothes, I swore that none of that stuff would see the light of day until I had a live baby in my arms. It was just too painful to have to put those things away. I thought about putting the new nursery together entirely right away, and this thought made me happy. Now I'm thinking--is this nursery for the new baby that hasn't even been conceived yet? Or is it for Nate? I really think that I was planning this nursery for my dead son. That is a crazy lady thing to do! He is not coming home. There hasn't been a mix-up with paperwork, he's not at his grandma's for the weekend, he's not coming home.

When am I going to feel whole again? I just feel so hollow, I don't even know myself anymore. What am I supposed to be learning from this? WHY ME??!! WHY MY HUSBAND? WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ANYONE?!! I mourn so much for this little person, who he might have been. He never opened his eyes, he never cried. I had so many dreams for this little guy. Hope and hope lost.

I guess that I'm scared to death that my brain hasn't even let me have it yet. That it's been in self-preservation mode, and that soon it was going to dawn on me that my baby is gone forever, and I'm going to lose my fucking mind. That's what scares me.


Catherine said...

Your grief is so raw right will feel "better" in time...I promise.

Have you read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking? She describes so well the same realization...he is NOT coming home...I'm acting crazy.

Just know that you're not alone. And if autopilot works right now, then go on autopilot. Take some time to mourn and heal a little bit before you expect so much from yourself.


delphi said...

I didn't work for 3 months after our son was born, so I didn't really have a routine. No routine was freeing - it allowed me to grieve all day long if I needed to. Getting back to the routine of work was hard, and I am still not settled in, but routine is helpful to structure your time. Sometimes the lack of structure can exacerbate the depression. So lean on routine if that is what is getting you by.

I do appreciate the disinterest in life and the uselessness of it all, especially the mundane in our routines. It does get a little less weighty.

Regarding "how are you doing?" my answer for the last year has been "I am doing okay". Maybe not the best grammar, but then I wasn't claiming to be better than I was and it was also all that most people wanted to hear. It worked for me.

And, I hate to say it, but I think we all do lose our minds. And I don't think we ever find the old one that we lost, and when the new one is installed it is like having slightly the wrong version of Windows. You don't remember simple thing, you do remember heavy things, you process through the eyes of loss. Maybe 20 years will give us more balance. Maybe not.

Sarah said...

I typically say "ok" to the how are you question. I think i say it with a leading intonation so that I'm almost begging for people to really ask how i'm doing, but they don't.

I once had someone say "Only OK?". It made me want to scream. Ok wasn't good enough.

I still often feel like I'm going through the motion. I think that as time goes on your brain will process things in a way that is best for you.


kate said...

I agree with what everyone else said. It sounds to me like you are doing, yes 'fine', for a grieving mom. I do think also that there is the edge of sanity and that we occasionally feel that edge in our grief. It is a very scary thing to feel.

It is okay to be numb, it is okay to cry, it is okay not to cry. What works for you, is what is okay. You do what you need to, to get you through the day. And slowly your life will find a balance again, but it is very hard and it takes time. Thinking of you....

Sarah -- heh, someone said something like that to me a WEEK after Nicolas died. (It was in french, but that was the gist of it -- 'only OK?'). I looked at her like she was a crazy fuck, which apparently she was. She knew all about him, too, she had no excuse.

the ockers said...

I'm not very good at answering the 'how are you doing' question honestly either. But lately (only to younger people) I say 'well last year was terrible and it really f****ed me up' but they never say anything in reply to me.

msfitzita said...

I felt so much like this at your stage in the process. You're not crazy and you're not going crazy. Trust me.

I think the thing is, you're totally numb for a long time (even though you may not realize it) and when that protective coating starts to wear off you start wondering how on earth you've been surviving - and how you can continue to survive. Your brain starts to let the reality reallyseep in and it's a terrifying one.

You're a new person now, and it takes a long time to get used to that person - who she is, how she reacts to things, what she can and can't handle on any given day. Give her time. You'll find out who she is and become comfortable in your own skin again. I promise.

I firmly believe it takes a lifetime of work to cope with the loss of a child, and those moments of "crazy" are part and parcel of the process.

Trust me, you're normal. And you're doing just fine.