"Life isn't about surviving the storm...it is about learning to dance in the rain." Anonymous

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's the joy?

I am constantly amazed at the strength of the human spirit and especially the strength of parents.  We had such an interactive discussion at support group the other night about life after loss.  Is it ok to feel happy again or smile sometimes?  Should you feel guilty if you do?  Will there ever be any joy again?  If so, when does it come?
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, there is no timeline for grief.  It has to work on its on time.  I read somewhere that losing a baby is like having your heart cut in half.  It bleeds for a very long time and eventually will leave a scar.  The scar will  always be there and if explored or manipulated, may bleed some more.  I really like that analogy...it makes sense to me.  Even though I feel like my personal "scar" has formed, there are some days when it gets opened a little and bleeds.  Something will trigger the emotions, though they are not as raw anymore.
There is no script for how to act when you have lost a part of yourself.  It surprises me that when someone loses a limb, they are perceived as normal if they grieve that limb or even if they perceive to still feel that the limb is still a part of them.  But when you lose your baby, something you have helped to create and nurture, people sometimes want to put a time limit on your feelings. 

I do think that as the scar forms, new joy seeps in slowly.  And maybe it is because of that scar that we are able to really appreciate and notice that joy when it does appear.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dreaded Postpartum Check up and other things...

So, I just happened to read a blog entry from one of my favorite bloggers about her recent postpartum checkup and the insensitive questions she had to endure from the staff!  It never ceases to amaze me how insensitive people can be sometimes.  Not that anyone sets out to purposely be mean, but people sometimes really don't think about how their comments or actions hurt other people.  That first follow up appointment after you lose your child is horrible enough.  Just riding through the parking lot of the doctor's office is torture.  There is nothing worse than having to sit in a waiting room with expectant, happy couples waiting for your turn to be seen. 

I remember very well my postpartum check up after we lost Elizabeth.When I checked in at the desk, they told me I didn't have an appointment (even after they had called to confirm it with me the day before!), so I had to be "worked in".  So, 1 1/2 hours later, I was finally in an exam room crying and the nurse who came in to tell me that it wouldn't be much longer told me that I shouldn't be crying, that it was the Christmas season and what did I have to be so upset about??  REALLY!  It went downhill from there and I will spare you the details, but I couldn't help but think about it today as I read that blog.

In the aftermath of my loss, we got the usual comments from people:  "Wow...you still look pregnant!"  (Just what any girl wants to hear, but especially bad if you have just delivered your stillborn daughter 2 days before.  Did she really think I would not look pregnant after I had been pregnant for so long??)      "It just wasn't meant to be."  (So, if someone dies at 30 or 40 or 50 years old, is it appropriate to say it wasn't meant for them to turn 31, 41 or 51??)   "Aren't you so lucky??  Now you have your very own angel in heaven?"  ( I am dead serious about this one;  I couldn't make this up!  My response finally came after the stunned silence from my husband and myself:  I was hoping she would bury me, not the other way around.  So...we are not feeling very lucky.)

Anyway, I could go on and on and I am sure you could add to the list.  What time has taught me, though, is that I really don't think others mean to hurt with their words or actions, or at least I hope not.  One of the many, many things that losing Elizabeth has taught me is to think before I act or speak, because you never know what is going on in someone else's world. 

Any thoughts??