Monday, August 17, 2009

Forward to normal?

Today has been a tough day. My first day back at work for three and a half weeks. I was dreading it, but I hadn't quite worked out why beforehand. Three weeks is long enough to notice a colleague's absence, even if you don't work with them very much, so I knew there would be questions. I suspected the source of my dread was the prospect of being asked where I'd been, what had been wrong and whether I was well again, from the people who didn't know. I imagined myself telling them in a detached manner what had happened to me, because I would feel like I was ok again if I'd returned to work. But I suspected that perhaps the other option of everyone knowing and sympathetic looks and gestures might be equally difficult to handle.

I didn't know what to expect from the people who I was going to have to see and interact with, but probably more importantly I didn't know what to expect from me. No idea! No idea if I'd be up or down, friendly or defensive, happy or sad. It was beyond what I could predict or contemplate. I made plans of course: getting there early to avoid running the gauntlet down a full office; telling a couple of people there I was feeling wierd about it so I could call them from the door if I needed help; deciding what work I was going to do to ease me back in; and planning other aspects of the day.

Most people left me to my own devices, which was probably the best option I could have hoped for. A couple of people asked and were a bit put out by the curt answer they got. I was perhaps more put out than them though, as I was shocked at the curt answer I gave. We'd decided as soon as we knew what was really happening that we wouldn't hedge from giving the real answer if people asked, but somehow in a room full of people who didn't know and some of whom I didn't really know well enough to expect them to want to be involved, it became a vast truth to speak out loud, it became an impossible task, the words just wouldn't leave my mouth. Maybe I didn't really know what to say. Should I have told them that I'd had an ectopic pregnancy but it's all fine now, panic over, and after all we could try again and be nice and positive, or would that have sounded too much like I didn't really care about my loss? Should I have said I'd lost a baby and left them feeling that I was melodramatic and enjoyed creating awkward silences? By the time you try to work all these things out you get so exhausted that you just go for the easiest option which is to just say you've been ill and leave it at that.

I've been defensive all day... Yes I'm fine, yes I'm over it now, yes I have been away for a long time but it's best to make sure that I was fully recovered to be able to come back and hit the ground running...

That's all complete rubbish.

I'm not over it.

Right now, this minute, I'm less "over it" than I've been for weeks. Some friends have just had babies, some friends are expecting babies, most people are telling me that the worst is over, but I just don't see how it can be. Yes I'm getting fitter again, I can sit at a computer again and do normal things, but I don't feel like I will ever be the same again. What level of "normal" am I returning to? What am I getting back to? I just don't know.

The person who's been sharing this with me has tried to understand, but he just can't. He can't understand what it's like to be a mother and then not a mother. To have a child physically removed from you. What it's like to be reassured that all you lost was a bundle of cells, yet to know in your heart that if the bundle of cells had been in the right place that you'd be allowing the nurturing feelings to grow and you'd be already seeing it as your baby. How can it be something one minute and a nothing the next minute? I know there are lots of people out there who do know what it's like and I know a lot of you have left me messages already, which I have really appreciated. But just now in the maudlin state that my first day back at work has reduced me to, I can't see how anyone knows exactly what it's like to live my life and understand my battles. I'd only just been picking myself up in life, learning to unfurl my painful truths, only just starting to appreciate how the events of my life shaped me into the emotionally stunted person I am in real life, only just learning how to be selfish in demanding support from other people.

Then suddenly I get thrown into a situation I can no longer handle on my own, one in which it is essential that I trust other people and one which I don't have the ability to process mentally on my own or deal with physically without help. I've been absent from my normal way of life, been thrown off the path and I've been fighting my way through the darkness and the elements to get back again. But where do I return to? Which version of myself? That person who was yet to be a mother no longer exists, at least if she does she's still very lost and confused. In the end do I want to be that same person anyway? I've learnt so much from these past few weeks that the positives which have come from this experience will be lost if I go backwards to the person who I was. So who do I now become?

Getting back to normal is a fallacy and an impossibility. I need to get forward to normal. A new version of normal. How do I do that?

I need to say goodbye to my baby, whether it's the real little ball of cells or the imaginary baby which now lives in my head, the one which this pregnancy would have become in different circumstances, I'm just not sure how I'm going to do it.

Say "Goodbye" to goodbye:

A brown envelope, plain and small,
Screams its importance in dischord
Within its nest of birthday cheers.
Mirroring that happier time,
Where sunrise of benign relief
Rose positive from negative.
This time doomed to herald bad news
Whatever the results may be,
The final outlet for our grief.
"Sadly no official remains"...
Nothing which they need to dispose,
Nothing human we need to mourn.
All moments of existence wiped
By faceless official decree.
The time for forgetting has come.
Tell it to my body, my heart,
My soul and my maternal urge
That they are misplaced, mistaken,
That they are just not viable
That a life did not truly start
Because it could not reach its end.



  1. Oh, oh no...I am so sorry. I want to send you a hug and tell you how sad I am for your loss. I believe loss never leaves us the same and normal is never what we were before. But there is a place where the sting is slower and not as sharp as it is initially in grief. You have lost a dream, and a child. You have the right to say whatever you need to as you process.


  2. PS I am on break, but was just checking in.

  3. I'm honoured that you've called by on your summer break and I really do appreciate any advice you have for me meredith.

    We are sometimes the people who are hardest on ourselves and I've certainly been expecting my self to recover from this as soon as possible because I think I should do.

    You are right I've lost a child and a dream, I cannot bring myself to accept the "just a ball of cells" idea - it's not like any other cells I might have lost. The pain is bound to fade I know, but it's difficult to see right now!

    Hope you're having a good holiday :-)

  4. this couldn't have been an easy day. but hey, it's nearly over. and express your anger, hurt, frustration, all of it. that's what heals, ultimately. love and hugs to you!

  5. Pinkerbell,you're right when you say that nobody knows how you're feeling right now. I've lost a mother, but not a child.
    All I can say is this is your journey, so you do it your way, at your pace, and grieve as much as you want to, whatever anyone thinks, for your lost little baby, and your lost dream.
    Sending you love and light, and a hug (( ))

  6. thanks for sharing this Pinks, it was always going to be difficult, so glad that this bit is behind you now. What to say to colleagues? Yes, a minor (on the scale of things) but irritating gnat of a side-effect. At the risk of repeating myself - these pieces are bound to help others in similar positions, when will they be submitted for wider publication?

    meditated daily for many years, and have many very poor excuses for having stopped, but still find meditation is a powerful Reset to Default button when I get too caught up/wound up/fraught about things.

    keep on trucking P, best, file

  7. I know that no amount of comforting words would suffice to lessen the pain you are going through right now. Only a mother could feel the kind of excruciating pain of losing someone so special, for whom she would more than willingly have traded her own life if given the chance. But like my 12 year old student said, they cannot just vanish to nothing. They were somebody and somebody very dear to us. What was given to us stays with us, for no amount of time could erase the moments you have experienced together, no matter how brief it may have been. My heart goes out to you. I would pray for you always. As hard as it is start picking up the shattered pieces of your life one day at a time. Just think of it this way: He is now in living happily in God's eternal home, and he would want to see the most valuable person to him, you, happy as well.

  8. Thanks all for your comments and kind words.

    File - I have written to the Miscarriage Association and they said they will look over my posts here and see if they can do anything with them. Fingers' crossed.

    I had a long discussion with a friend the other day who had a still born baby at full-term. I felt that surely her tragedy was so much worse than mine, but she reassured me by saying that she felt I'd had a hard time and I was surely feeling all the feelings that she did. Particularly she understood the yearning to be back to normal again and the uncertainty of not knowing if I ever would be. I told her how I felt like I was being overly dramatic to say I'd lost a baby and she said something which I found very comforting, that she would be shocked that a woman looking to get pregnant who considered herself ready to be a mother didn't feel like I did. She said it was a natural maternal urge and nothing I should feel guilty about.

    Talking with the right people is the best cure for anything in my experience, that's why I so wanted to share my experiences on my blog.

  9. You are a strong woman, PB, which may surprise you how strong in the days to come.
    Just keep your head down and dive into your
    work -this has helped me in the past.
    However, walk confidently when not at your
    desk. This is a most beautiful and spiritual
    poem - outstanding.
    Remember you have an ever present help whose
    right hand upholds you.