I thought I was doing a good job coping. I really did. As far as I could tell, I wasn't hiding from my feelings. I cried. I talked. I cried more. I thought a lot. If you had asked me, I would have told you that I was doing great at this grief/healing thing. Then came Tuesday. I had a severe case of sads. Bad enough I was willing to call it depression. The "I'm crawling back under the comforter and not coming out until it's all over" kind of depression. I didn't even want to eat ice cream to make myself feel better; that's way low for me. So, I took the day off. I let myself bow out. Given that I am also recovering from severe bronchitis, I figured it was allowed. And, by the end of the day, I was feeling pretty functional again. So, imagine my surprise Wednesday morning when I found myself in that deep down funk again. How was this possible? I gave myself yesterday to cope and had gotten better. This was not how things were supposed to go. And yet, there I was. Fighting for the energy to shower, get dressed, and go to work. And again this morning. The funk. The lack of energy. The wanting to bow out and let the world go on without me for a while.
And it occurred to me that maybe I hadn't been coping as well as I had thought. As I thought about it, I realized that there are some good reasons for that. First, my body is not yet done with the daily reminders. I had my ultrasound today and although things look good generally, there is still some "fluff" (yes, that's the medical term the ultrasound tech used) and it's likely I will keep spotting until I have my next period. Let me tell you--it's not fun being continuously reminded of a loss that is, for all intents and purposes, still ongoing. And I realized that I was hiding at work. I would get immersed in things and not have to think about my loss; my grief; my feelings. I was superwoman and getting lots done at work, but I wasn't getting much done internally. Turns out, my ability to function and perform well at work is unrelated to how well I am coping with the loss of my child. Shocker!
Ironically, my discovery of my lack of dealing with things came when we received some good news. We found out that, if we decide to try again, we have been given the financial resources to do so. I honestly thought this news would make me feel better. And yet, somehow, it plunged me further down into my hole. I simply could not fathom why good news would make me feel so horrible. But, as Phil and I discussed it, and I discovered that his experience had mirrored my own, we figured out what happened. We had been focusing on the financial aspect of the decision whether to try again which kept us from dealing with the emotional aspects. So, once the financial issue was off the table, there was nothing left to do but deal with the emotional baggage. Hence, my funk.
So, I sat with things, thought about things, and tried to listen to the inner me--who often makes more sense than I give her credit for. And I reached a few conclusions. First, I'm taking May off the table. It's too soon and requires too much planning for which I am not yet ready. Plus, I don't think I will have processed my grief by then and I really don't want to start a hormone heavy regimen while still processing strong emotions. As much as I hate waiting--as much as I didn't even want to wait until February this time around--I know that taking May off the table, thereby relieving lots of pressure on us, is the right decision.
I also discovered that one of the things that I needed to do to help me heal was to name my child. This was difficult because we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. We talked about naming it something gender-neutral, but nothing seemed to fit. Then, yesterday, I was talking with a good friend who went through a miscarriage at 12 weeks. She told me that she had thought she was carrying a boy, so she gave it a boy's name. As I thought on this and talked with Phil, I realized this made perfect sense. While I was pregnant, I thought I was having a boy. So, when I lost the child, what I lost was the visualization of my family with a little boy in it. That made my loss little boy-shaped, so it only made sense that it should carry a little boy name. And, to be perfectly honest, once we found out I was pregnant, since we had already picked out names, I had already been talking to the baby in my head by one particular name. And so, after much discussion and thought, Phil and I agreed on the name for our angel baby--Oliver James. Sometimes, I still find myself talking to Oliver. Most often, I'm asking questions I know he can't answer. But it comforts me. It makes him real. And, while it solidifies the loss, it also helps me heal. Further, by giving him his own identity, I don't have to worry that I will try and treat any subsequent children we decide to have as replacements; they will get their own identity. Still, I have no life experiences with loss that are the same as what I'm dealing with. Don't get me wrong. I have experienced loss, but nothing on this scale. And that makes it hard for me. I don't know what to expect. I don't know how to behave. How do I know what to do? How will I know when I'm done? There's no list of steps I can go through and wander out the other side and know I'm all better. The planner in me is going ape over this.
And, in the midst of all this anger and frustration and funk, what I also realized was that I was not strong enough to do this on my own. I was going to need help. And not just people help (although that part is necessary and amazing). And not just prayer help (although, again, wonderful and amazing stuff here). No, I was going to need medical help. And so it was that I sucked up my pride and took some Xanax. I hate taking meds for anything. It makes me feel like a failure. But, knowing how helpful the Xanax was at taking the edge off so I could function during Lil' Bit's surgery and recovery, I knew it could help me get back to functionality after this loss. And, slowly, I have started to emerge from the fog. Not entirely and not as much as I would like. I'm still feeling somewhat overwhelmed. But, the Xanax has provided me with enough light that the fog isn't as thick anymore.
And so, I am thankful. Thankful for the pharmacological miracle that is helping me get through this loss. Thankful for all the friends who have helped me. Thankful for all the women who have shared their stories with me. Thankful for all of the people who have said the four right words: "That sucks. I'm sorry." Thankful for all the prayers. And, even though it doesn't feel like it right now, I know that, someday, I will be thankful to be on the other side of this. Until then, thanks for walking through it with me.