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“You just moaned,” she said in the darkness.
“I know,” I replied, suddenly wide awake.
“What the hell was that?” she asked me.
“Had a nightmare. We heard something so I got up to check it out and I went all around the house–it wasn’t this house, though, way more rooms and corridors–but there was nothing there. I was going back to bed and I then I saw someone standing there and it scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t see the face, just their slight form and I was so freaked out I actually puked into my hand and then threw it at them and shouted and then I woke up.”
“Well that wasn’t a shout you let out,” Lu replied. “More like a moan.”
“I know. I woke myself up!”
That was at four thirty in the morning. I fell back to sleep eventually, but it was a fitful sleep and when I got up for the day I had a crushing, twisting knot between my neck and my shoulder blade. That particular pain has been with me off and on for many years, and I know that whenever it flares up it means I’m way too stressed out.
I was fine before bed, but after that early morning nightmare the muscles seized up and spasmed. I could feel them throbbing all day.
It’s never fun to be in pain, but I have less tolerance for it now than ever before. I use ice and heat, Lu helps with massage and after a few days I’m usually back to normal. But the normal I go back to is far away from what it used to be.
Every day without Silas is brutal. Every day I do not get to be a father beats me to a pulp. Every month when we are again not pregnant what little bits of hope I’ve managed to find are ground further into a fine dust of desolation and fear. One night of sleep in a weird position or nodding off on the couch, head tucked into my chest, sends my neck into another twisted crimp that drains me of the energy to battle through another day.
Used to be I could deal with it. Sure I got surly and short when the worst of it hit, but most days I could push through and heal fast. Now I’m knocked flat because I do not have the mental reserves to deal with the physical pain in my neck as well as the emotional pain of every waking moment.
That afternoon I dropped off some beans at my first delivery and then headed south towards the shop. It was a glorious summer day and I tried to fight through the various bullshit setbacks that popped up here and there, as well as ignore the furious web of muscle across my back. The first gas station had been closed and then my card declined at the second. The road to my delivery was clogged with unmoving traffic so I took a long detour, cursing and wincing the entire way.
I finally made it there, did the drop and then drove on. As I steered with my right hand, I used my left hand to locate the nexus of the pain on my right shoulder blade, and I went to work. I pressed in and around, easing the muscles open and releasing the stored stress that gathered on my back.
Missed the Boat, by Modest Mouse came on and I kept pressing even as I sang along. I felt the pressure build behind my nose and eyes and mouth, and then from the speakers and me shouting along: “Well we knew we had the good things / But those never seemed to last / Oh please just last” and my throat closed, my tearducts opened and I spilled out raging hot tears as my breath caught in my larynx and a guttural groan escaped my clenched teeth.
I pressed against the muscle with two fingers and steered with five and neither the salted liquid in my eyes nor the blasting music around me ever obscured my vision. A hot stream of rage and pain cascaded down my cheeks and I flew down the road trailing thundering riffs and defiant lyrics.
I thought of the dream from the morning and how the fright finally pushed my stress into that tangled knot of muscle. From the moment I woke up, all I could think about was Silas: The day of his birth that still makes me flinch and squirm; every day since that I cannot believe I’ve survived.
I want to reject this entire option, this whole way of living and yet it lays on me and penetrates my soul so that I can be nothing else than the sum of everything I’ve done, and everything that has happened to me.
I didn’t sob or keen. I just puked tears out of my eyes and vomited groans and drove down the highway, on my way to work. And I was better by the time I got there. My neck and back still hurt, but I could clearly feel that I had released some of the emotion that had been building for many days.
The stress of my emotional pain makes my muscles tense. When that finally snaps into spasm, the pain pushes me over the edge to where it feels like my whole life is a jagged, broken mess. My physical body is my last refuge from the World at Large. When I feel physically good I am better at handling the episodes of sadness and grief. But when that is compromised by pain or sickness I have no place left to go, and I am left exposed to the raw truth of our loss, both within and without.
The rest of the day went smoothly, and at home that night I sat with Lu as we ate dinner.
“That dream has been with me all day,” I told her.
“It is so freaky,” she replied.
“Yeah, it scared the shit out of me. And so gross, I can’t believe I puked and caught it and threw it at the Intruder.”
“That’s one way to scare someone off.”
“I guess so,” I replied and then shuddered, remembering. “And then I shouted!”
“Well, it wasn’t much of a shout.”
“Yeah,” she replied, half-laughing. “It was more of a ‘Eeeee oooohhh aaaahh'”
“Eeeeooohhhaaaaah…” I imitated her imitating me and she started laughing so hard. Then I tried to do it again but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get the shout-from-the-bottom-of-a-nightmare-well out without bursting into guffaws.
Now all I have to do is go “eeeeoooahhh!” and we both crack up, and that is far better than either of us cracking up for real.
Babies are appearing everywhere, and the afternoon light is such that I expect for us to be expecting, too. The late-setting sun blasts through the windshield as I turn off the exit to my house. The angle of those rays are filled with meaning.
By nature, I am an extremely curious person. I love to ask questions, I love to know your story, I love looking at pictures and getting a glimpse into people’s lives. I think that’s why I took to face.book so quickly a few years ago when I joined up. At that time, only a few of my friends were on it and it was much quieter. These days, it has taken on a life of it’s own. Everyone is on it and giving the play by play of what used to be the mundane and ordinary parts of our lives.
But at my age, almost everyone I know is married with a family. This year, though, it seemed like there were more babies being born then ever before. Or maybe it’s because everyone is sharing all about it in detail. When I was pregnant, it was fun. I loved sharing my updates, my excitement, connecting with old friends who were also pregnant. But now, wow, being in this situation – it’s like a daily form of torture.
A lot of us here in babylost land have ditched our memberships. It is just too hard to see all those baby & pregnancy pictures. Not me, oh no, I stayed the course. I figured- you all were here when I was pregnant supporting me, you’ll all stay with me when I go through this nightmare as well. And you know what? I was right. I have heard from countless friends these last 9 1/2 months since Silas died. Many sharing their own horrific stories, others just offering up their love and thoughts. It’s been overwhelming. This is the good stuff though. The stuff that keeps me going. The emails, the words of encouragement, the love.
The other side of this is the baby & pregnancy pix. It just tears me up. Little by little I find myself hiding friends from my news feed, because I really don’t want to know what you and your new little baby are up to. But I kind of do. I need to take that peek, to see what I’m missing. I look at the pictures, I read your comments, I torture myself with what I don’t have. Then I cry and feel sorry for myself and punish myself for looking in the first place. It’s an ugly cycle that I can’t get out of. Luckily all I have to do is click hide and *poof* you’re out of my life for now.
2 great friends of ours just had their babies this past week. I want to know everything and nothing at the same time. I am torn. I want to make sure everything went okay because I love them, but then I cry because I know that I can’t get past my own unhappiness to be happy for them. I want to so badly. I want to go hold their babies and give them every ounce of love I can find in me. But I can’t. So, because of that, my curious nature gets the best of me, and I have to look first before I hide.
Why must I torture myself? I am not able to shut it all away. We work at the farmer’s market every week, where new parents parade their new babies around like show dogs. I put on my blinders and pretend they aren’t even there. I guess it’s easy enough to pretend when there is no connection in the first place. With friends though, it’s harder.
I still cry when I see my good friend’s 4 month old. I still can’t allow her to exist in my brain, even though I know she does. It’s just too hard and they understand.
Some days I feel okay. I wake up and think about how okay I am, and wonder how that is even possible. Then a week of new babies being born takes me down that ugly spiral where I feel like I can’t and don’t want to crawl back up.
To all of this, I know there are no answers. Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped asking questions.
It was a gorgeous day at the beach yesterday, but the sting of sunlight on my skin had nothing on the pain within.
Kids screamed and shouted, they cried and laughed and argued and ran. Babies were tightly wrapped and shaded against the sun and exasperated parents tried to relax as their brood ran circles around them.
Lu and I sat quietly, a team of two, each of us seemingly absorbed in a book.
My eyes were on the page but my attention was scattered like the sunlight bouncing off the rippling waters.
This impromptu trip to the shore was too easy. Just tossed a few things in the bags, grabbed the chairs and hit the road. No squealing toddler to wrestle into diapers. No seven extra bags to maintain said creature in the harsh environs of sun and sand.
Eventually the unrelenting heat sent me to the water’s edge where I strolled in up to my knees. The frigid water was refreshing, but the salt and cold made my feet and ankles sting. I know that sting well.
Though I have managed to find many moments of happiness and pleasure in the last months, those moments never appear without an internal snap of pain and anguish. There is still no way to avoid it, and I don’t know that I would if I could. I try so hard not to linger on the what-ifs and should-bes, but the blatant void of his absence is simply too powerful.
It was a beautiful day at the beach with my wife, but there was no protection from the burn of our loss.
There never is.
I want to grab ahold of the World, turn it upside down and shake everything loose. I want the sad, depressing, difficult parts to fall away, to vanish into the ether, so that when I turn it all right side up again, all we’ve got left are the good pieces. The thing is, I’m not even sure if I could figure out which was which.
I can’t get my arms around the World, either, and I’m not strong enough to lift it. Besides, the vigorous shake I would give it would do nothing more than rattle everything around. Probably break a few things in the process. Nice things like summer days would end up cloudy and muddied. And I’ve had enough of the rain to last for a good long while. Best for me to just sit here, nearly motionless, my only action the turn of the page of the newspaper I hide behind like a shield.
Ensconed by the fences of our yard I choose to enjoy the warm air and sunlight. With an almost-imperceptible effort that is oh-so-familiar to me now, I decide that today’s beauty will not cut me to pieces. It is a choice, though. It is all too easy to let the grief and despair dominate.
This doesn’t get easier. It’s not better today than it was any yesterday. In some ways it is even worse, because now there’s been all this time to think about what happened, and to more fully realize how deep losing him goes.
He is gone but we are still here waiting for him. And everyone we know is looking back at us from their bright and lively futures. I don’t feel that sense of future. It is all just one long, brutal Now that started the moment we lost him. Because that cannot and will not ever change it is difficult to feel that anything has changed at all.
Now I am exactly montionless, because even reading has stopped. Only my thoughts remain moving as I twist around and around how today the World is the same because Silas is not here. Tears flow down my cheeks but I don’t wipe them away. There are still so many more to come and I have no where to go.
I have had these images of myself with my feet stuck in cement, and everyone else is just flying past me. Their lives are moving forward, baby after baby being born. And here I am, stuck. While I know I’ve moved forward in these last 9 months in so many other ways, I am still not a mom to a living child. As a teacher, I have always taken care of other people’s children. I have always imagined what it would be like to finally have children of my own. I almost did.
When we decided it was time to start our family, we were still in SF. The timing never seemed to work, and then we decided to move east. At that point, we figured we’d wait until we were settled in a new town in a new apt. As soon as that time finally came, we got pregnant pretty quickly. It happened so fast and so unexpectedly. Our bodies really were connected with our minds.
Here I am, years later from when we first decided we were ready, and we’re back to square one. It’s so frustrating and so upsetting. I am realizing that in all this, I am scared to death that it will never happen. I am terrified that I will never get to be a mom. One by one, all the babylost mom’s out there are getting pregnant again. Then here I sit, waiting, stuck, a life on hold. It’s almost unbearable at times.
I have the angel on one shoulder whispering in my ear in the most hopeful of voices “of course you will get pregnant again, don’t be silly.” I have the devil shouting at me “don’t set yourself up for disappointment again, look what happened to you already.” and the battle continues. Do I fill myself up with hope that it will happen to me? Or do I put away all thoughts of what will & could be and accept what is now.
I don’t want to accept it. I imagine my Silas with me, 9 months old, almost every single day. It’s my daily torture. It’s this constant longing for what isn’t here and what will never be. Then I fill my thoughts with hope for a new life growing inside of me. But that is not happening, and at this point, is hard to really believe that it will. I want to believe it, oh so badly, but that devil forces me back to reality.
Balance is necessary and important. Finding it with the opposing thoughts on my shoulders is a challenge. Luckily I have lots of love around me, pulling me up from the cement and moving me in the direction I need to go.