What I thought grief looked like:
What grief really looks like:
My, that is spot-on. I think I've been giving myself a bit of a hard time lately for not being as "OK" as I'd like to be or as I think I should be or as I think other people think I should be...
But you know what? Grieving is hard. Sometimes it feels impossibly hard. I've never done it before and there's no rulebook. To be quite honest, it's sometimes even confusing for me because I'm almost grieving something intangible. Yes, I carried my sweet baby within me for 5 months but I never held him/her, I never felt the tiny feet or placed my finger in Petey's palm or saw my nose and Hubs' chin reflected in this little being. We don't have any pictures or mementos or any real memories with our child, all we have are the memories of the dreams we had for the future. There was no name given... I don't even know if Petey was a boy or a girl. Sometimes I really regret all of that. Every bit of it. Sometimes I feel selfish for choosing not to do any of those things - for choosing the "easy" way out and going through a D&E instead of giving birth. Other times I'm relieved we made the choices we did because we are still here, Hubs and I, and we need to find a way to move forward and to heal. Maybe these choices allow us to do that more "easily". (Quotations because NOTHING about this is easy.)
When you are stuck between a rock and a hard place and are living a nightmare that you cannot believe is your reality, you do what you can do. I forgive myself for that. I forgive myself for making impossibly hard decisions that really can't be right or wrong. I was forced to decide and I did. I can't beat myself up now that it is over.
But it's still so fucking hard.
I went to a used bookstore yesterday and the owner was super chatty. He noticed my wedding ring and then asked if I had kids and wanted to see the children's books. I wonder if the immediate brick in my stomach made me outwardly react or if it just felt that way? I swallowed and just said "no". That brick did not go away though. I felt guilty just saying no like Petey never even existed. I wanted to tell him that I did have a child but he died. And I'm grieving. And I miss him. And I ache every second of every day. But do I really even have the right to say it out loud?
International Bereaved Mothers Day is coming up this Sunday, 5/4. Am I a "bereaved mother"? I never gave birth. I never held my baby. One day I entered the hospital pregnant and left not pregnant and it was over. I don't have the right to equate myself with grieving mothers who really are mothers: Those who kissed scraped knees and wiped chocolate-covered mouths and gave kisses and knew what their children looked like! That is not me. All I know is that I loved our little Petey Nugget and I grieve both the physical loss and the loss of what the future should have held for him and for us. I feel alone in my grief.
So yes, grieving is HARD. It is not the nice smooth upward path that I, and likely everyone who knows me, would like it to be. There will probably always be totally shit days but eventually they will start to thin out and eventually I will work my way back into the "OK" range. In the meantime, I will try to be easier on myself and realize that just because one day or one hour or one conversation with a bookstore owner feels like a step backwards, I am still moving in the right direction. Just very very slowly.
Thank you to bethanysk55 at Losing Lucy and Finding Hope for putting this in perspective for me and drawing these graphics.