Thursday, July 25, 2013

What to do when your baby dies

I seem to be wanting to go back in time to the days after I lost Adrian.  It was January 2, 2009.  I have saved my therapy sessions on tape and was listening to them today.  I don't know what has triggered this wanting to go back in time, but I suspect it was related to a recent EMDR session. The session was not even related to my pregnancy or baby loss history, it was about something totally unrelated, but every time my psychologist let me travel in my head to some time in the past, I ended up thinking about Adrian, and what was, and what could have been, and particularly what was not to be.

If I were to go back in time and talk to myself as I was in January 2009, this is what I would be saying, more or less:

You have just lost your baby, whom you loved so much.  It is very, very hard.   You are suffering not just from the physical loss, but also from a huge, raw, dark grief, on top of the trauma of the delivery, and it is all excruciatingly painful.  Take your time, don't rush the process.  The first week is very hard. You will want to isolate yourself, to keep apart from society, and that is ok.  You will have a lot of periods of numbness, and then raw grief.  The numbness is normal, and it is an adaptive response, don't worry about it.  It will help you get up in the morning and maybe brush your teeth.  The grief is what is lying underneath that numbness, and it will bubble up to the surface sometimes.  Let it all happen.  Just take very good care of yourself, as best as you can, by keeping warm, trying to eat something, connecting with someone you trust who was with you through this whole thing (for me, my husband).  Notice when you feel more still and peaceful, and try to do more of whatever brought that feeling on (for me, it was looking at pictures of birds on Flickr, knitting hats, and going for a walk in the snow).

Don't take personally the things that your loved ones say out of grief, it is their grief speaking and not their wisest self.

Two weeks later, perhaps things will be a bit better.  Perhaps you will be better able to think about what you will do next, about trying again, about going back to work, about life after death.  For now, however, and in particular today, at this very moment, you don't have to think about it.  Just focus on healing and being kind to yourself.

I deliberately wrote this in the second person because I am thinking that it might come in handy to someone going through this difficult trial now or in the future.  It might even come in handy to me sometime in the future, when another grief-ladden moment awaits, as they do for all of us.

I feel a bit better able to look through the past up to now, and appreciate how much time heals.  I am, however, still amazed by how much grief I am still carrying and am not aware of, almost ever.  Therapy or suppression, what is the answer to this one?

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