I know there’s no “right” way to grieve, but sometimes I feel like I’m not doing it “right.”
Too much of the last four weeks has felt “normal.”
I don’t feel depressed and upset all of the time. Most of the time I feel like me. Probably the thing that bothers me most is that I feel better than I did when I was pregnant. I loved being pregnant because I loved my baby and loved how close I was to him all of the time. I hated it because I felt miserable, like my back was breaking and my hips were falling out of the sockets. I hated being nauseous for months. I hated being unable to do a lot of my job functions at the library and not tell anyone why other than that I had “back problems.” So most of my guilt is focused on feeling better postpartum. If I had a baby at home with us, or even still in the hospital, I can guarantee I wouldn’t feel guilt over feeling better. But I feel like if I say, “I’m feeling good now that I’m not pregnant,” others will hear it as, “I’m so glad my baby is gone!” Maybe they won’t, but maybe they will. Or maybe I’m afraid I’ll start hearing it that way?
As it is, people sometimes give me strange looks when I want to talk about Seraphim’s birth story. As if I’m not allowed to talk about labour and delivery if my baby didn’t live past his birthday. It’s still part of his story, and it’s still something that makes me a woman and a mother. It’s something I feel like I have a right to talk to like anyone else. I know they would be more interested and attentive and not surprised and standoffish if my baby had survived. It’s like they think I’m not doing it right–the grieving.
The last few days, I’ve felt more depressed than usual, but even this just feels like something that will pass. I don’t feel like I’m drowning in waves of sadness and remorse over my baby’s death. I usually only cry at night and when I wake up in the morning, because I figure those would be the times my baby would be most obviously part of my life.
More surprising to me is the amount of anger and bitterness I feel towards others with babies. I don’t want to see them, don’t want to hear about them. Thankfully, aside from Facebook, I have not been confronted with too many babies yet. I know when I am, it will bring new sadness, but I won’t feel as raw.
For the most part, I feel like life goes on. I am doing the things I have wanted time off of work to do. I think I may be slightly more depressed than I can consciously realise since I have noticed the weeks go by quickly and almost without consequence. I meant to call my godmother back who called last Saturday, but then over a week went by and I don’t know why I didn’t call her back. I don’t even know what that whole week was. Maybe that’s what my grief does to me? It’s deep enough that my body won’t let me consciously feel it most of the time–as if it’s physical trauma.
Still, I want to be normal. I know life won’t be the same and that it will be hard always because I had a beautiful baby who I loved but couldn’t stay with us very long. I know others will always expect certain things out of me I can’t always give them, whether it is grieving a certain way, or getting over things.
I have come to the point where I feel like the best thing to do when I go back to the library is to be open and honest about why I was gone so long. I had my baby early, and my baby died of lung failure. My supervisor always thought it’d be best if I kept it all a secret, but now I feel a degree of bitterness at her. I feel like it was supposed to be shameful that I was pregnant, that my baby had a poor prognosis. I feel like she didn’t want people to be happy for me, and she didn’t want me to make people sad. Well, she let me know right before the baby was born that she’s pregnant, and now I feel like all of her concern was due to her not wanting to risk being the centre of baby-related attention. I doubt that’s really the reason, but my bitterness tells me otherwise.
As nice as it was sometimes to not have to deal with people’s comments about my baby, sometimes I wanted to talk about him. And I know in the future, I still will. I can’t just pretend like he didn’t exist and he wasn’t part of my life. I have to talk about him sometimes. And I also have to be allowed to talk about other things than my baby. I don’t want to feel guilty for talking about him or not talking about him. I want life to ebb and flow like it’s supposed to. I want my baby to exist in my life but not have to be my every thought or utterance.
And I guess that’s why grieving is confusing for me. It’s different than what it feels like it’s “supposed” to be. Whatever that is. I feel like telling more people about my baby helps. Hopefully someday soon I will be able to look at and hear about other people’s babies without feeling ache and anger that mine is not with me any more. That, so far, has been the hardest part of this journey.