Wednesday, March 25, 2015

managing anger

I wrote this last Wednesday, but didn't post it. I was so angry when I wrote it, and I don't like to post, or text, or write anything in anger.  I'll write it out, but I'll just sit on it for awhile.  I try not to act on negative emotion.  I've learned it's wise not to act on something out of anger.  Write it out, get it out of your system...but don't tell the world how you feel when you're enraged.

I've sat on it for a week, and I don't feel the need to edit anything out.  It all still rings true.

But just be warned, it's not a pretty, "feel good" post.  And there's some cussing, cause, well, it's me writing here.

I'm so angry. I've been walking around with this simmering anger, just sitting beneath the surface for a good week now.  Some days, like this past weekend, I am busy with life and can mask it easily. Other days I have nothing but obnoxious chores and work on my agenda and I feel like a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode on the first unsuspecting victim that says something slightly off color.

It drives me crazy.

I'm not normally an angry person.  In fact, it usually takes a LOT to get me angry.  Granted, once I'm angry I'm usually seething mad and it's difficult for me to calm down, but it takes a whole lot to make me mad.  I don't fly off the handle easily.  I think before I speak.  I don't often say things out of anger that I later have to apologize for.  I can manage multiple stressors relatively well.  I am aware that the world and life are not fair, and I don't feel like I am entitled to or owed anything.

But lately that has not been the case.  I've been angry more often than not.

Having this uncontrollable anger nipping at me from the inside out is a strange feeling.  I'm on edge.  There are times when it literally feels like something is chewing on me from under my skin.  It's a constant low level irritation.

I'm pissed off that Reece died.  I'm mad that my body went into preterm labor and threw him out into the world before he was ready.  I'm angry that my daughter has to mourn her baby brother, and was robbed of the opportunity of being his big sister.  I'm absolutely irate that my relationship ended because my counterpart couldn't take it.  Couldn't handle another loss in his life, so he chose to check out, leaving me alone and pissed off.  I'm so so mad about that.  I'm pissed off that I had to move, twice in one year.  I'm so fucking pissed. I'm angry that this grief thing never just ENDS.  Like, seriously, enough already. ENOUGH.  That there doesn't come a day where you've reached your full of grief.  It's not a like a prison term, where you are counting down to a specific day when your nightmare is finally over.

No, friends.  This type of grief is life without parole.  Sometimes days are easier, and you relish those days.  Drink them up like fresh lemonade in the summer!  But then in the blink of an eye the bitter sourness returns, and you realize life handed you lemons.

I am so sick of it.  I AM SICK OF IT.

And I'm angry. 

I feel like I need to send a text to anyone who may come in contact with me throughout the day.  Just a simple message: "Caution, I'm angry.  Talk to me at your own risk."

The unfairness of this situation has been weighing on me.  Just sitting there on my shoulders, constantly pushing me down.  Why did I have to lose my baby and others get to keep theirs?  Why did MY baby have to die?  I did everything right, as instructed by my doctor.  Why are there people out there who drink, or smoke, or do drugs, KNOWING that it hurts their child, yet their babies get to live?



I'm so mad.

And I know it sounds selfish, to ask why others get to keep their children, and I didn't.  I know, I KNOW, that that's a dumb question to ask.  Because of COURSE, we want everyone to have healthy babies. OF COURSE.  I want nothing more than for no mother to ever ever have to feel this feeling ever again.

But on my angriest of days, it still doesn't make it easier that I was the one dealt this shitty hand of cards.  I realize that everyone has their own struggles in life, but on my angriest of days, like this past week, none of that matters.

Because I am just so pissed off.

So I do anything I can to help relieve it.  I go to the gym.  I run.  I lift weights.  I crank the music up in my car LOUDLY.  I drink red wine.  I ponder going back on medication to even out my emotions.  I cry and complain about it to my best friends.  They are angry for me too.

That helps.

And then I read thisThis article, which had made the rounds on several of the babyloss pages that I follow on Facebook.

Grief and PSTD.  Yeah, I'd say I have a healthy dose of both.  Nothing like giving birth unexpectedly at home and then watching your child die in your hands to give you a nasty case of the PTSD.

The idea of the article is that these are crosses that we have to bear for life.  The low level rumbling of anger is something that I just need to "learn how to live with."  (Fuck that phrase, even if it's true, it can eff off.)

The author even says:

I frequently find myself in a state of irritation. I’m agitated, simmering on a low boil. I look forward to moments I feel content, moments I feel more like myself. I want to be that person more often. I long for that peace. But there is still anger in me that I cannot seem to tap. Things that wouldn’t normally irk me do. People that don’t normally annoy me are like nails on a chalkboard. It’s as if my subconscious is looking for ways to get out this anger, any way it can. How can I not always seethe at how unfair it is that my baby died?

It feels like she's reading directly from my brain.  That's exactly how I feel, way too often.

There is a shred of solace in knowing that others feel the way I do.  That others know how annoying and draining this process is.  I take a tiny bit of comfort in know that there are others who relate.

And then a note on love, which I also find to be chillingly true.

The irony is that I have an appreciation for my life that many others don’t. I have such love for my family and friends that I could burst. I value each breath that I take and find overwhelming moments of joy in my life. But I’m still also sad. I’m still also angry.

I love so hard these days.  I feel joy on such a greater level that I ever did before.

But I'm still so profoundly sad.

And I'm still ferociously angry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Today was such a beautiful day.

And I was happy.

It feels weird to type that on a Wednesday.  For the past 45 weeks every Wednesday I have to psych myself up.  I have to peel my eyes away from the clock from 7:30am - 7:36am, the times Reece was born and died.  Every Wednesday I have to give myself a pep talk.  A reminder that I've gotten through all of the other Wednesdays since he died, and I'll get through this one too.

We are still adjusting to Daylight Savings Time in my household, so the mornings have been particularly painful.  Neither Sadira nor I are morning people.  I've felt distracted the past couple days.  My brain is still sleep fogged when I wake up, and my bed feels like a warm nest.

I KNEW today was Wednesday when I woke up, but I wasn't acutely aware of it like I usually am.

We went through the motions of the morning, with the help of coffee.  As we both adjusted to the day, it started to take a turn for the awesome.  When we stepped outside, the sun was shining and the weather was markedly warmer.  I instantly felt awake and alive.  We both breathed in the air, which had a hint of spring to it.  By the time we arrived at school this morning the sunroof was open and the radio was up high.

We both loudly sang along.

Not all Wednesdays have been this awesome.  Just last week was a rough one.  And there will be many more rough ones in the future, especially as April 30th comes closer and closer.

In the early days after Reece's death I would feel so guilty when I would feel any shred of happiness.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't happy very often, but every once in awhile I'd have a moment where, in the words of my friend and fellow babyloss mom, Marisa, "laughing didn't feel forced."  It's strange to think that, isn't it?  That there is a time where you have to fake "happy," or even just "okay" because your true emotions are so hopeless and sad that you don't want to subject others to that sadness? 

But every once in awhile I wouldn't have to do that.  I would genuinely smile or laugh, and then minutes later a wave of guilt would pass over.  Mommy guilt still extends to babyloss moms too.

These days I've allowed myself guilt-free happy moments.  I've allowed myself to laugh with friends without worrying if I came across as too well adjusted.  I'm still struggling, y'all.  That truth is real.  But I'm learning how to temper my sadness and manage my happiness.

Yes, this babyloss thing is EXHAUSTING.

But today was beautiful and I was happy.


About a year ago I went for my six month dental visit. I was about twelve weeks pregnant and happened to mention it to my dental hygienist, Selena, before she started my cleaning.  A weird side effect of pregnancy is that your gums bleed when you brush, and I wanted to give her a heads up.

We chatted about the normal pregnancy stuff.  How I was feeling.  Whether I thought it was a boy or a girl.  What we were hoping for.  All the nomal chit chat.  When my dentist came in to check everything out, he said with a smile, "well, let's try to get you back in here one more before the baby comes for your next six month appointment, okay?"

I made my appointment for the end of August.

About six months ago I went in for that August appointment.  I was at the lowest of low points.  My son had died.  My relationship was over because of it.  I was in between homes and living out of boxes.  Looking back I probably should've just cancelled the appointment, but I guess I wanted to try to maintain some sense of normalcy for myself.  Who knows for sure.

I was relieved when I got there and my hygienist, Selena, wasn't.  She was on vacation with her family and I had a substitute hygienist cleaning my teeth who didn't know me.  Didn't know anything about me.  Didn't ask any personal questions.


The appointment was fairly routine, and the cleaning was simple.  As always, my dentist came in to check everything out after my cleaning.

I was lying all the way back, reclined in the dental chair when he came in.

"So, it looks like your teeth are still in great shape," he said.  I nodded, as he started poking around and inspecting my freshly cleaned teeth.  "Just remember not to brush to hard when you're gumline is showing some evidence of rough brushing, but nothing to worry about at this point..." he continued.

"I think you're good for another six months," he smiled at me, upside down from my vantage point.

I nodded.

"So how's the baby?  You must've just recently had the baby, right?"

I was still lying down in the chair, still has gauze in my mouth and wasn't prepared.  I knew he meant well.  He was just checking in, personally connecting with patients.  Something I normally admire about a healthcare provider.

But all I could muster up was a very tiny voice that said, "our baby died in April."  I couldn't explain anymore.  I stared up at the tiles of the ceiling, trying to will myself not to cry, but it was too late.  The tears rolled down the sides of my face and onto the floor.

He apologized.  Fumbled through something, I don't know what.  I couldn't pay attention.  I'm sure he felt horrible, but I couldn't even look at him.  The substitute hygienist quickly excused herself.  It just kept running through my head, our baby died in April. Our baby died in April. Our baby died in April.

I don't remember leaving the office, but I do remember sitting in the driver's seat of my car and weeping.  I was supposed to be in the very last weeks of my pregnancy.  I was supposed to be "nesting" and preparing the "any day now" arrival of my son.

But instead I was explaining to my dentist that my son was dead.

Last week, on Wednesday of course, I had my latest appointment.  When I arrived, I saw Selena behind the desk.  She motioned to me that she would just be a few minutes and I mouthed back for her to take her time.

I mentally prepared myself.  I reminded myself that I hadn't seen Selena in a year.  It was likely that she didn't know what happened to Reece.  It was very likely that she was going to ask.

"Nasrene? You can come on back."  The sound of her voice interrupted my thoughts.

I walked back to the exam room, and just like she always does, she reminded me, "there's a hook on the back of the door, if you'd like to hang your coat and purse."

I was hanging my coat up when it happened.  I was facing one side of the room, hanging up my coat, and she was facing the other side, looking through her notes. Our backs were to one another.

"The last time I saw you was a year ago and you were pregnant.  I know you've been here since, but I didn't get to see you.  Soooo....what did we have, a boy or a girl?"

I slowly turned and sat down in the chair, "I had a boy." I felt calm when I said it.

Her back was still to me, scanning through her notes, "wonderful! So how is he?  What's his name?"

There's always that moment.  That brief moment before you clue someone in on what happened.  That moment where you feel horrible that you are about to give them bad news.  It's weird, because it's YOUR bad news, so you KNOW that no one feels worse about it than you do, but you still badly for delivering the bad news just the same.  You know they're going to feel badly for asking once you tell them.  But they need to ask.  And you need to tell.

I've worked SO HARD on learning how to gently deliver this news over the past *almost* year.

"Our son was born prematurely in April, at almost 23 weeks gestation, and he passed away.  He was beautiful, though.  His name was Reece." I said it calmly and evenly.

She turned to look at me with a horrified look in her eyes, "I am so so sorry...I...I didn't know...I just.."

"It's okay," I told her with a small smile.  "Well, it's not okay that it happened, but it's okay that you asked."  I borrowed that line from a fellow babyloss mom, Meghan.  It's a good one that exactly conveys how I feel. (Thank you, Meghan.)

"Oh, okay, because I'm just so sorry. I just...I just don't know what to say," she stumbled.

"That's exactly it.  It's such an awful thing, there are days that I often don't know what to say, so I know. I know exactly how it feels to be speechless.  But I'm doing a little better these days, and I don't ever mind talking about him.  He was my son and I like to talk about him, even though I don't have much to go on."

With the ice broken, she asked me some questions, and I answered as honestly as I could.  She grabbed my hand and squeezed it.  I felt good to be able to talk about Reece.  She thanked me for being understanding with her, and for being willing to talk openly.

My appointment continued as usual.

I didn't cry.  I would've been okay if I did, but I didn't, this time.

My, how things had changed in six months.


I left and didn't cry in the car on the way home. I had a little conversation with Reece in my head and thanked him for not only helping me to be a better mom, but a more compassionate person.

Life has been forever changed in the 45 Wednesdays since April 30th.  But there are still beautiful days, and happy moments.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

dear reece

Dear Reece,

Hi baby, it's your Mama.  I've been thinking about you so much this week, moreso than other weeks.  You've been on my mind almost every second of every day.  And today has been a rough one for me.  It's a weird thing, this grief thing.  There were about two weeks there, the past two weeks, where I felt really good!  And not to say I was healed, or fixed, or "over" the fact that you are not here with us...but I felt better about everything.  I could talk about you to strangers without getting upset.  I could diffuse awkward questions from people who had asked about you, but didn't know you had died, without making them feel uncomfortable.  I started to feel like I finally had a handle on this grief thing.

And then today happened.

Reece, there have been many days like this since you were born and died.  Days where I just.can't.function properly.  For no specific reason.  Days where I get overwhelmed with the simplest of responsibilities.  Days where things like going to a doctor appointment and giving my recent medical history wouldn't have broken me (like it did today).  Baby boy, I have lived through so many of these days and I am still here to tell the story, so I must be making some progress...but then days like today happen, and I feel overwhelmed and mercilessly sad, and I just can't shake it.

And I know I won't be able to just "shake it."  It doesn't happen like that.  There doesn't always have to be a trigger or a thing that happens to make this difficult for me.

It's difficult for me because you are not here, and I'm not able to see you grow up.  I miss you.  Your sister misses you.  She grieves in her own little way.  She still talks about and thinks about you and writes about you.  Though it's not always to me.  I think she doesn't want to upset me, like so many other people think.  But the reality is, I love when people talk about you to me. Or ask about you.  I miss you every moment of every single day.  You are never a bad reminder.  The only thing bad is that I didn't have more time with you.

I mostly think this week has been so tough because if you had been born at term, instead of prematurely, we would've been celebrating you turning six months old this week.  I so distinctly remember when your sister Sadira turned six months old.  I wonder if you would be doing some of the same things that she did at that age.  I wonder if you would be sitting up like she did, or rolling (she never did).  I wonder what your laugh would sound like, and what color your eyes would be.  Would they still be blue like your dad's, or would they have turned brown like mine?  At this point you would be smiling big giant smiles.  Smiles that would be big enough to see your dimples.  (And I know you would've had dimples).

These are the things that I miss and wonder about.  I will always count in my head how old you should be, what you should be doing, and how we should be spending our days as a family.  I wonder what foods you would've tried, which ones you would like and which ones you would hate.  I can only imagine the funny faces you would make to let us know if you DIDN'T like something.  That was always one of my favorite things Sadira did when she was your age.

I wonder if you would've been like Sadira and slept through the night at a crazy early age, or if you would still be waking me up at night.  Just so you know, I wouldn't have minded if you were here and waking me up at night.  I wouldn't have minded at all.

I still have most of your clothes, your crib, you rocking chair...all of the things that we bought just for you, but never got to use.  I was able to give some of your clothes away to some dear friends of mine who had baby boys about your age.  Not a bunch, but just a couple things.  That was very hard for me at first, but then I was glad that to see other baby boys wearing the things that I had so carefully picked out for you.

So many of your things have anchors on them.  Almost all, actually.

I don't know if it's a good or bad that I've held on to most of your things.  But I can't part with them.  It's all that I have to remember you.  The box of your cloth diapers that arrived in the mail two days after you died still sits in the top of the closet, unopened.  I can't open it, but I can't get rid of it.  These are the things I struggle with.

I hope you know how very loved you are, even if you are not here with us.  Your presence is so much a part of my life.  The people who know me the best make me so so happy when they talk about you!  A couple weeks ago I was talking to your Aunt Neda and she mentioned that she sometimes gets so sad thinking that she will not get to see you grow up.  And even though we both cried about it on the phone, my heart was singing with joy when she said that.  Because it means she remembers you and misses you too.  Same with your Aunt Tessa.  They miss you too.  Everyone does.

Reece, I would give absolutely anything to have you back here with me.  Absolutely anything in the world.  But the reality is, there is nothing I can ever do to make that happen.  I just hold onto my firm belief that there will be one day where I get to see you again.  I truly believe it, more than ever these days.

Sometimes people say to me, "you know he's always with you," and I want to believe that, baby boy, I do.  But the reality is, I'm selfish and I don't want you to be with me in that sense.  I want you HERE.  In my arms, in our home.  I want to hear you babbling, and shrieking, and saying "mama" and "dada."  I want to watch Sadira hold your little hands and help you stand.  I want her get grossed out at you because you blew out your diaper and you've become a giant mess.  I want you to keep me up all night because you've caught your first cold and you're stuffy and having trouble sleeping.  I want to be frustrated because you've started to wean yourself from nursing at six months like your sister did, and I have to resign myself to giving you formula because you prefer a bottle.

I want all of those things, and those things cannot be.  It's a tough fate to accept, sweet baby.  I love you and miss you every single moment of every single day.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.