Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reality Check

I feel like I’ve taken many steps forward in my first month of the grieving process and yesterday I feel like I was thrown one huge step back. I had been finding it very comforting to go to groups and talk about my feelings. I had attended one meeting by the PBSO with other couples that had recently lost a baby and I went to a meeting at the BFO that was not starting a group for lost babies until September but had an informal meeting with three other mommies. I also found the grief and loss board at WTE and Share message board full of people with similar losses. Everyone was so kind, comforting and understanding of my loss. They knew what I was thinking and feeling. They were thinking and feeling the same things. They made Cole and Breanna real and made their loss feel significant.

After so much success in these other forms of sharing I decided to go to a Share and Support night at the BFO. I knew that there would be people with all different losses but I also knew three other ladies that would be there that had lost there babies. One that I had met at a PBSO meeting and lost her baby a day after birth due to an intestine rupture, one that had lost her baby at full term and was born still due to a cord incident and one that had lost two babies due to premature birth many years ago and she now worked at the BFO and was facilitating the mommy group.

As I sat in the room and looked around before the meeting officially started I suddenly felt like I don’t deserve to be here. I lost my babies at 23 weeks. I was only just over half way. My loss was so insignificant. I actually considered getting up and leaving but thought that would make more of a scene and draw more attention to me and my insignificant loss. I suddenly realized that by surrounding myself with all these people on message boards and groups that had lost babies I had deluded myself into thinking that my loss was somehow significant but now that I was in the really world the reality was that it wasn’t. It occurred to me that all my friends and everyone I know in the “real world” not my comforting “baby loss world” must be thinking “what the f**k? get over it.”

As the group started and the facilitator talked about memories I again realized I have no memories I only have the memory of what would have been, what I had hoped for. I was grieving the loss of a dream not actual people. Then came the time to go around the room and share our loss. I hated that I was sitting right next to the facilitator. I was going to have to be first. I tired to think about how I could make my loss not sound so insignificant. I imagined what people would think if I had said I was only 23 weeks along and what they would have imagined would come out at 23 weeks. I know that before I saw Cole and Breanna I had some crazy thoughts about what they would look like so early in the pregnancy. I know I thought they wouldn’t look human and if they didn’t look human then why would I be grieving for them. All I said was “I lost my twins, Cole and Breanna, after going into labour preterm”. Simple, to the point but without giving away that I was ONLY 23 weeks which I imagined people thinking would be like losing a baby at 8 weeks which I had lost before and although I was sad, probably mostly because it was the first time I actually got pregnant after a year of fertility treatments but I certainly wasn’t in need of a support group. I cried, moved on and started trying again. I never even considered grieving the loss. (My apologies to anyone reading this that has suffered an early loss but that’s how I felt).

As we continued sharing around the room I didn’t feel any better. People had lost their parents, spouses and children at all ages 2 through 22. Even the other lady that was grieving her preterm losses said her story better than I. She said she was remembering her two babies that she had given birth to prematurely and they died shortly after being born. So much better said… explaining that they were alive, they were actual beings that she was grieving. The conversation continued and people were invited to share about ways of remembering and experiences dealing with mother’s day and upcoming father’s day. I wanted to talk, share my mother’s day story but just couldn’t. I felt so wrong being there. I felt like they wouldn’t agree that I was a mother and I just couldn’t stand to feel that after I had just dealt with that issue and felt that I resolved it. It was like I had taken two steps forward and then reality taking me one step back.

After the meeting, people got up and started talking to each other. The facilitator who was sitting right next to me initiated a conversation with me. He asked about my loss and I shared with him my concerns and fears that I did not deserve to be here. To my surprise he actually perpetuated the thoughts I had. He said “wow that is an early loss.” I explained to him that I was worried that people must be thinking that what came out at 23 weeks was not even human and to that he actually said “what did come out?” I imagined that he must have thought they were just two grotesque blobs of human tissue and so tried to explain that Cole and Breanna looked so normal and perfect just small. I had to validate them by explaining that they were alive, and moved their little fingers around. I got the feeling that he didn’t really believe me so I said I had pictures of my babies and I took out my wallet size photos of Cole and Breanna to show him that they were real, they were human. To my surprise his response to looking at the pictures wasn’t you’re right, they do look so normal. Instead he was shocked and he said word for word “wow they were SO SMALL. I’m assuming that is your hand in this picture and your hand is not very big”. I couldn’t believe it. If a pastor was thinking these things what must all of my friends think? No wonder they have all just disappeared and not known what to say. They must think this is such an insignificant loss. Well if it’s so insignificant why does it hurt so much?

Well this was my reality check. I need to join the real world. I haven’t figured out if that means agreeing with the real world and getting over it OR sharing with the real world what my babies looked like and showing them that they were human. I’m a little afraid of what they would think of that. My babies are beautiful to me but I’m their mommy, mommies always think their ugly kids are beautiful. My babies are also beautiful to others that have had a premature loss because they know what it’s like. But to those in the real world, my babies must look creepy or scary or I don’t know because I don’t see it but I certainly saw it in the eyes of the pastor and it wasn’t pretty. :(

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