Yesterday, I got an email from my good "SF" friend, it contained a draft letter to my OB, aka "OBitch". My friend wrote in the subject line, "Do Not Read This Without 'Husband' Nearby". This is the letter she offered to write for me when I first received the bill from OBitch for a "Routine Obstetrical Pregnancy/Delivery", full price, for what she, OBitch, referred to as "1/2 a VBAC".
SF wrote in her note to me, "I know you still cry, I remain eternally sorry for what has happened.". I wrote her back and told her about my dead baby mafia moms, and that yes, I do still cry and that I suppose I always will. I wrote that "...this is a loss like no other" but that I had found my sanity, at least some of it, in being surrounded by all of these amazing women who have also suffered tremendous losses and now are trying to find life and a way to LIVE it, not endure it. I told her I was tired of feeling as though the elephant in the room was always sitting on my lap. I also told her about my new t-shirt, look here, which I wore proudly for the first time yesterday. Thanks Coggy! You so rock! And I told her I was getting off my cross.
When SF wrote back, she brought up a friend of ours, I'll call her 'Brittany', (for reasons that will become apparent), whose daughter died three days after being born. If you can believe this, I have never even thought about her until now. Obviously, she is not one of my close friends, I haven't spoken to her in years. When her daughter died, about 7 years ago, we were still the type of friends who sent baby gifts to each other, although our contact mostly came about through SF friend. Her daughter died, to put it simply, because Kaiser fucked up. They missed a birth defect, a heart defect, that could have been corrected and should have been detected during the pregnancy and if not then, immediately after she was born. But instead, they sent her home telling her mom that it was normal for newborns to experience rapid panting and seem breathless for the first few days. And they were right. On one point. She was breathless. So breathless in fact, that her breath stopped. During one of only three 2 a.m. feedings she ever had with her daughter, my friends baby arched her back, turned red and died. In her arms.
They found out about the defect from the autopsy. Kaiser, clever, clever Kaiser, had my friend in "therapy" the next day and began what I can only describe as a shamefully sinister scheme of medicating her into oblivion. And they did. They kept her strung out on opiates, the big bad kind, for over a year. It destroyed her marriage, her parenting, (she has an older son) and her life, for years. She's now divorced, lost custody of the older son and the subsequent daughter she managed to have in her drug induced haze and living in another state.
SF friend brought her up in the email like this, " I can't tell you how lucky your family is that you are dealing with your grief in a positive manner and not doing a "Brittany" on us. I think that is what a woman had to do 20 years ago. So pass the wood along BUT not until ready."
So now I wonder, will I ever, really be "ready"? There is still so much about everyday life that knocks the wind out of me. And I have become painfully aware that I am stockpiling a whole shit load of emotions while we "try" to make another baby. I have a horrible feeling that if we never get knocked up again, or worse if we do and I end up here again, that shit load is gonna take me out. Something tells me if I were in 'real' therapy, my doc might have me lookin a whole lot at the stuff I'm ignoring, the shit load stuff.
So I decided to try it out myself. That is, try and figure out what I am ignoring and how to get this fucking elephant off my lap.
1. My list I reread it, to see if I thought I'd be repeating myself here. Nope, I was right when I wrote #45....I have lots more to add.
2. Pregnant women. I loved being pregnant, every time, the whole time. I was actually sad when my water broke with my first because I knew the "easy" part was over...God was I stupid. I can't stand being around pregnant women now. I do it, but Gawd, I hate it. When I see one, I want to run up to her and say, "I used to be like you, all happy, with a live baby in me, but then my baby died, fucking up and died, in what was supposed to be the safest place on earth, my baby died right inside of me and there wasn't a god damn thing I could do about it." "And yours could too." But I don't. I just feel another piece of my heart freeze over instead.
3. Conversation. Every single time I'm in one, there's something I don't say. If you knew me IRL, you'd know that is not a skill I had mastered in my 'before' life. It has often been said about me, that I use my honesty as a blunt instrument and also that I have never had a feeling that I haven't shared. Not anymore. See #2 above for example...
4. Driving. I used to treasure my alone time in my car. Turning up the radio, playing the 'not for kids' songs, singing out loud...badly. Now, when I am alone, the "noise" starts, the "My baby is dead" noise. Now I turn up the radio to stop the noise. And the singing, that stopped the day Caleb died.
5. My garage. Lots of boxes out there. Clear, labeled boxes of baby clothes. And at the end of a rafter over my car, there is a baby bathtub. Waiting. Can't decide if they represent hope or torture. I suspect they have the potential for being both. Lucky me.
6. My closet. Beyond the racks of clothing that now come in all sizes, way before, before, after, way after, which then became before, and then after, again, and then before again, and behind all of that are my 'during' clothes. The maternity clothes that escaped the exiled box that I threw at my husband when we got home from the hospital and told him "Get these out of here." The ones that are left in my closet, they are the ones I never wore, the ones that still have tags on them, the ones I bought for the next season...the ones I was going to wear when I was really big and it was Fall and it was my favorite season...the ones I bought when I thought it was safe to plan. When I still had hope. It never pays to plan.
6. Shopping. Ever notice how every single store you go to has baby stuff. I do.
7. Doctors. Besides and not including OBitch. Now when I go, I get to be the one whose baby died. I don't get to blend in anymore...I get the pity care too. Careful...fragile...her baby died. Shhhh. I much preferred it when they just thought I was a bitch...those were the days.
8. Gift Bags. Okay so it's kind of a repeat from the "list' (the mortuary gave me my son's ashes in a fucking GIFT BAG), but now when I see one, even if it has Princess's on it, I still think, "The mortuary gave me my son's ashes in a FUCKING GIFT BAG. Best gift I ever got...NOT.
9. Dead baby pictures. That I have seen them. That I have cried over them. That I have come to know their mom's. That I am not afraid to look at them. That I have my own. That mine aren't ones I'd ever share. That I am mad that I don't have "good" dead baby pictures. How fucked up is that? Being mad that my dead baby pictures aren't as 'nice' as others...somewhere out there a therapists dream vacation is going to be paid for...by me.
10. Sleep. I have never slept like I do now. I used to have to 'self medicate' to sleep. A cocktail. Some Benedryl, or maybe NyQuil, or maybe a few cocktails. It was always something. I could never just get into bed and fall asleep. Not for years and years. Too much going on, too much stuff to think about, stuff that would keep me up for hours. After Caleb died, I had the xanax for a while, and then the Scotch or wine or vodka, but I hated the way it all made me feel and I hated the dreams. My brain would relive it all, every night. I would wake up crying. I would wake up thinking it had all been a dream, that I was still pregnant. I would wake up and it would be a nightmare. I hated waking up. So I stopped. I found out if I didn't do any of it, I could actually lie down and sleep and the dreams went away. I found out that when I just sleep, it's actually the only time my brain is literally too tired to torment me anymore. Or maybe I am too tired to listen. I guess it's a trade off. I don't like sleeping anymore, spending time in this dark, cold abyss, I hate that. But at least I don't hate waking up. I guess that's something.
There's more. There will always be more. But for now, that's 10 things I hate about this.