8 months … how have 8 months passed without my sweet boy? The length of time you lived with me, is now the length of time I have lived without you.
It’s a Monday and the 23rd, same day and date I birthed you sleeping.
While 2017 has given me a sense of renewal and a feeling of optimism that didn’t exist in the year 2016 … one fact will always remain the same no matter the year: my son is still not here and I am broken without him. While the days of incapacitated tears are slightly fewer and far between now, it seems when they do arrive they knock me down harder than they did when my grief was fresh. It’s as if the events like holidays and such I can actually handle more, because there’s so much anticipation and preparation for them. It’s the unexpected triggers that literally knock the wind out of me.
Like last night, I was feeling so anxious and emotional. I thought most of it had to do with the fact that Jonathan was leaving for a 3 day business trip this morning. While that is one of the factors for sure, it took a simple look at my calendar to see Monday the 23rd for it to all make sense. These days, I barely know the date or what day of the week it is, everything is such a blur. Yet there it was, literally clear as day on my calendar.
I’ve had a lot of unexpected triggers lately. Something as simple as watching one of our new favorite reality TV shows, Leah Remini’s Scientology series on A&E. They showed her traveling to Los Angeles to interview a family who was broken up by this religion, and the interview date was printed on the bottom of the screen, reading: “May 23 2016.” It sent me in this spiral of thinking, ‘OK, on that date these people were in a diner talking to a celebrity about their religion … and I was in the hospital giving birth to my dead son.’ Clearly I know what happened on that date for me, but to see the actual text of the date and year flash across the screen made it all the more real. It sparked a flashback, and flashbacks are the worst.
I do suffer from PTSD. I hate saying this aloud because I feel it’s not valid. I associate PTSD with the brave soldiers who serve our country, who come back home and suffer from so many war related triggers. Yet by definition this is an disorder that can affect anyone who as experienced trauma in their life. I have indeed experienced trauma. Stillbirth is a traumatic experience. So I’m working with a therapist every week to help with my trauma, anxiety and emotions surrounding this.
I also recently had someone tell me my son was “unborn.” Not only did this send me into a fit of rage, but also a flashback to my trauma. Because with that one word this person tried to minimize me, my son and my pain. I have met so many mothers in this community of loss, each of their stories are so different. Like a close friend who just lost her son at 14 weeks or another woman I met through a mutual friend who had to make the pain staking decision at 19 weeks with her son after a life threatening diagnosis. So while these mothers may have not given physical birth to their precious children, their life is not any less valued. They were born and these women are mothers.
So upon hearing that disgusting word “unborn” my mind immediately rushed to these women and then of course to my son. Just as their experiences and procedures were traumatic, so was the labor and delivery of my son. So I will never understand the lack of empathy with people. Just put yourself in our shoes for one minute. Imagine being told your child has died, as if that is not tragic enough. But then you’re met with the task of going through all the pains of labor and delivery, only to be met with silence and a lifeless being in your arms. Your body still sore and bleeding like any other mother. Your milk still comes in like any other mother, but you have no mouth to feed. You still get escorted out in a wheelchair, but you leave with no baby in your arms. So with that one word, all these painful experiences came rushing back, feeling as life like as they did on May 23rd 2016. My son was very much born.
Unfortunately there’s no hiding from the many triggers of the world. They come in the form of commercials. Diaper ones of course, but even Doritos has one featuring a sonogram that physically makes me nauseous. Or the New York Life Insurance one that plays on repeat, with the sounds and moans of woman in labor. A birth announcement picture that flashes across your news-feed to remind you that you experienced the complete opposite. The “Baby’s 1st blank” photo, knowing your child will never experience that milestone. The ” X amount month photo” where you think, ‘what would my son being doing at that age?’ Or when mothers refer to their living children as “angels”, yet they have no idea that is the only word we loss mothers have left to describe our children.
I just never thought these triggers would come from the hateful words of a mutual friend or a Scientology reality show. But such as life, just when you think you’re protected, you’re not. So like I said, the anticipated ones I can usually handle … it’s the unsuspecting ones that knock you down the hardest. But I’m learning and trying each and everyday to get back up.