Protecting Yourself

Have you seen the episode of The Office where Michael hits Meredith with his car, and then she has to go to the hospital? And when Michael walks in with some of the gang, he looks at Meredith and says peacefully, “She’s in a coma,” which she obviously is not. Brandon and I watched this episode while we were waiting for them to take me back for my D&C in 2017. (Side note, saying the year like that makes it seem like so long ago. Holy cow.) When I woke up in the recovery room with Brandon, the first thing I said while my eyes were still closed was “she’s in a coma.” I figured I might as well try and lighten the mood.

We went home that afternoon and made french toast and watched tv, and did that until well into the evening. Later that night, I don’t remember what time it was, I just remember it was dark outside, a heated discussion started in our neighborhood Facebook group. At one point, a neighbor said to one of our friends (who we met because of our losses) “I’m guessing you don’t even have kids.” I was LIVID. Had it been to someone who had never had children or didn’t want them, it might have been a different story, but to say it to someone who should have had their child at home…it really ticked me off. So I responded to the neighbor and said that she should be cautious when throwing that around, and her response to me was something along the lines of “I have friends who can’t have children, it’s fine.” I was pissed. On the day that I’d had a child removed from my body, she had the audacity to just be a jerk. She had no idea, but I was still so mad. I had already bought something for our friend to honor her little boy and the daughter she’d be bringing home a few months later, and even though I was hoping to give them to her for her son’s birthday, I knew she would need them that night. After having someone blatantly call out her life with no children at home, I wanted to remind her that the important people will always remember that she is a mother.

So I spent the night of my D&C protecting another loss mom, and being angry at a woman who had no idea the pain her words had caused me.

For a lot of us who have lost children, we spend a lot of time being strong for other people. I can’t speak for other people, but I know how much I’m hurting, and I don’t want other people to hurt as and worry about me too. So we put on fake smiles and we say we’re okay (even if it might not be entirely true) and we got about our day protecting others, whether it be our parents, our siblings, our spouses, friends, or other loss parents. And then, because we get really good at being okay on the outside, the waves of grief come when we least expect it, and they come hard. I think that’s why I had such a hard time after my miscarriage. I had spent so much freaking time trying to be okay after losing Carter and little bean, and the miscarriage honestly shocked me. I just couldn’t be okay all the time anymore.

Now that we have Hudson, the opportunities for sadness are few, and that’s okay, because with him here, the happiness finally outweighs the sadness in my life. But there are some days when I start to think about everything we’ve been through, and I have to just push it aside, because I want to be happy for Hudson. I should be happy for him.

One night a couple weeks ago, I got up with him in the middle of the night, and as I was holding him, I started thinking about how much he looks like Carter. When I got back in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the day we delivered him. There are a lot of small moments that get overshadowed by the big ones, so sometimes, when I want to let myself be sad, I remember the small details, and I let myself cry. That night, I looked at pictures of Carter for the first time in a long time too. Our boys look so much alike. It makes and breaks my heart at the same time. I haven’t cried the way I did that night in a really long time.

Yesterday, I saw a stranger’s tweet on twitter about how her nephew was supposed to be born this week, and she didn’t know if she was allowed to be sad because she still hadn’t been able to get pregnant. I responded to her and told her that of course she was allowed to be sad. She was allowed to unfollow, say no to family events, and give herself as much space as she needed. It was advice I wish I would have followed more during everything. It’s so hard to take that advice and have people realize that it’s not that you aren’t happy for them, it’s just that you need to minimize the hurt for yourself. Because after losing a child, a part of you will always hurt, every single day.

I think my point in this post is mostly for myself. I spent so much time after our losses trying to protect other people. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just who I am, and it’s the entire reason why we continue to raise money for and donate Cuddlecots. But there were times when I wasn’t sure if people would be understanding of my need to protect myself, so I didn’t, and I wish I would have. Or I at least wish I wouldn’t have cared so much about how they felt when I said no.

Anyway, this is a really long post with no real point. But allow yourself to say no, because unless you take care of yourself first, you can’t really take care of those you love.