Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saying goodbye to complacency

They say there is no wrong way to grieve, we all do what we have to do to survive, but I can tell you that I was doing it wrong. I began using alcohol, "responsibly", at first, but had it spiral out of control over the many months, slowly breaking my little rules that I set up to convince myself drinking wasn't a problem. By summer I was abusing alcohol, period. I managed to shield Simone from the brunt of it for a long time, but in the end, I was not being a good parent. I think that was the hardest part, and still is the hardest part now that I look back. She deserved better.

I'm happy to say that I've said goobye to alcohol for awhile and I don't think I've felt better for a very very long time. I realized that all I was doing was trying to escape from the pain. Whether it was my alcohol, my ipod, or my computer; I did not want to feel what I was feeling. After hitting rock bottom and almost committing suicide (I had convinced myself I was a terrible mother and Simone would be better without me, 'crazy' I know), I checked myself into the Psych ward at the hospital. It was my daughter's 5th birthday, and i think it will always be the single best gift I've ever given her.

Being there, where everything is done for you, where there are no responsibilities except getting better; I had to figure out very quickly what to do with myself without my distractions. No phone, no computer, no housework, no work, no childcare. It was soooooo hard. It's like I had to start all over and really question everything. But I learned that I can cope with the pain, it is bearable . . . barely.

. . .

So, here I am. I clawed my way out of the bottom of the pit. For months and months, I thought it was a bottomless pit, but I was wrong. I've stood at the bottom, it's the worst place you can be. I can't say I wish I had never been there, however. I think that knowing there is a bottom, having stood in the darkness, seeing no light above me, but knowing I could sink no further, grounded me in a way I never expected. One thing I came to realize there is how alienated my dh and I have gotten from each other. I realized during my four days at the hospital, that I would not be able to heal if I did not address the problems in our lives. I was wonder woman for so many years, I didn't even realize that i was trying to be everything to everyone. I needed boundaries, space, and a room of my own. Hence, the separation.
We haven't been happy for a long time, and I realize now that I was putting too much pressure on Myles. In the first few months, I would always cry for the longest time about how he was my 'savior', oh how my life needed that baby. In the pit, and over the last few weeks, I've really thought about what I was saying. How could I have so much riding on him, this tiny little innocent baby? He wouldn't have been my savior, everything would not be miraculously perfect if he were here. I see this realization as a gift from him, he WAS perfect, will always be perfect, but nothing else in this life is. I am so grateful to have had him in my life, he has given me the most precious gift in this world. He has helped me to realize that I do not have this life figured out, that it is much tougher than I ever realized, and that I can make mistakes but be better for them if I work hard enough? I will be forever indebted to my son.
. . .

Brandon and I started counseling a few weeks ago, and it has already started to help us reconnect. He has had chronic back pain for many years, and the separation and counseling has helped both of us realize that what I was doing with alcohol he has been doing with painkillers. Now that he has had no painkillers for over a week, he realizes he was not just numbing his back pain.

It's almost like we took turns bottoming out. It's so hard seeing him standing at the bottom of that pit this week. One of us has to be here for my daughter, and it's hard to think that for awhile, we might have been meeting her needs, but we weren't really 'there' for her. We were just getting by. Today, I am 'there' for her, and for him, and that feels really good.It's been overwhelming to see him crying everyday, I've never seen him cry like this. For the first time ever, having him say to me, "I need you. Please, help me." My Brandon never asks for help. And I've been staying the night back at our house to take care of him. I see our separation as short term because I still love him and I do not want a divorce. I may even want more children together someday. But I am committed to it through November and maybe longer, and I fully realize that it may end in divorce, and that divorce does not necessarily mean failure. I think an unhappy marriage is a bigger failure than any divorce. Complacency is the root of all evil. Anyway, even after only a month, I can already thank our separation for a new level of awareness in our marriage and in our parenting. It seemed like forever that we were just trading off babysitting, going through the motions, and now we are being more concerted in our effort to heal, not just ourselves, but our family.
. . .

Last night, I asked DH, where would we be if Myles had lived? And we both, for the first time acknowledged together that WE might be no better. We would have our darling son, and there is no doubt he would've brought so much joy to our world, anyone who knows us knows we both looooove babies sooooo much. But we wouldn't have this opportunity to stand back from our lives and truly question everything, to be able to really ask, "am I happy?" and to be strong enough to answer, "no", and take that knowledge and have the courage to change our lives for the better. Moving out was the hardest thing I've done, it's still not easy today, but I've realized anything worth doing is not going to be easy.

So here I am, a day away from 10 months without my Myles, exactly a year from the day i began my preterm labor and the long weeks of bed rest that did not culminate happily as I was so certain they would. The countdown has begun, and I have no doubt the next few months will be hard. But I do not think they will be my hardest. I can look back now and clearly see the worst months behind me, and that gives me hope that no matter how many good and bad days await in my future, that they will never be as bad as they have been.

I will survive.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sorry I've been gone

I can't say no news is good news. However, I have stopped drinking and have never had a more clear objective view of my life. It's terrifying and liberating.
Tonight, I was invited to go to a dinner for an organization that does work to improve maternal fetal health. The focus of the dinner was prematurity. Now, I had my daughter at 35 weeks, and I went into preterm labor with my son at 28 weeks, and proceeded to be on bed rest until I lost him for no reason at 37 weeks at Thanksgiving. He had always been wonderful, I'd always, always say, "I never worry about Myles, he's a fighter," because he kicked me soooo much. I thought I had made it when I lost him. All those weeks worrying, sacrificing, putting up with mom, mil rotating to come help and stay with us. I thought it was the worst thing in the world, bed rest, the fear of him coming early and being in the NICU.
So I had to listen to a panel of parents whose children were sick and in the NICU, pretty freaking terrifying. But I could not, just could not bear to hear there stories, as amazing as I know they would've been to me 18 months ago. They were talking about family support, and care packages, and all this stuff they gave them. They only made cursory mention of bereavement, none of the parents on the panel had lost an infant, and there book had one page on infant loss. But on that one page, they talked about helping plan funeral services. And the packages they got were beautiful. (Which makes me all the more made when I see that they would turn away bags from anyone for anything!!! ).

Nobody would say the word death. They'd just allude to it, and then they would cry about how close their children came. All I could think about was Myles. It was torture. And I couldn't help but being angry with them. I've said to myself many times, if Myles had come early, he'd likely be here. But then I look at the statistics for a 28 weeker, and they have a worst chance of neonatal death (5%) than anyone has risk of stillbirth (1%). So I can't say the statistics were in our favor if he had come on Sept. 23rd.
So I actually envied them. And while I was doing it, I was thinking how awful I was. I almost had to get up and leave. Then, they had speakers on about infant loss. I'm thankful for the work they do. But why wasn't anyone talking about stillbirth?! They were more afraid to utter it, than the word death. Sigh. Why is fetal death so taboo?!

I've been gone for awhile. It's good to be back. This fall has been hard, Myles seems to always be on my mind lately. I was walking in Walgreens, and I looked up, and I saw Halloween stuff!!! And my mind transported me instantly back, and for a millisecond I felt like it was a year ago. How can minutes seem like hours, but the time has gone by in a blink of an eye? I've lost almost a whole year now.
One thing I can remember with such utter happiness, is that my mom was down before Halloween and we decided to paint a pumpkin on my big pregnant belly. And it fills me with such sadness that he is not here with us to go trick or treating. But I'm so thankful that I thought of doing that then (I was on bed rest already, but with hope, as I'd made it through October). I'm so grateful I have those memories of his first halloween, when he was my little pumpkin.MISSing Myles and all our precious little ones this Fall