Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fear with a capital F

I was in the shower this morning when it hit me. The memory of holding Addison for the last time. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last time. And even in that moment, Chris and my mom and my sister Sarah and I all discussed how good she looked--that she would seemingly hold on forever and make this even more difficult for us all. It seemed at that time the state of limbo we were in--with her being alive but not really, just waiting patiently in the hospice for death to come--was the worst it could possibly be. That once she died, we could get about the business of mourning and get past this terrible thing. For the longest time, I had this idea in my head that I couldn't shake--the idea that I could have "closure." I'm realizing there is no such thing. People talk about starting new chapters in their lives, moving on, looking ahead. It's an illusion. It doesn't really happen like that. This so-called closure is actually a slow, painful drift through time, punctuated by strong floods of shit that knock you off the lifeboat you were barely clinging to in the first place. At least, that's how it's feeling for me these days. One of those shitstorms hit me this morning in the shower. I had that guilty, horrible feeling again because I actually WANTED Addison to die once I learned of her condition and prognosis. To then have her around one day--one minute--one second longer--just seemed to cut the wound deeper. During the visits I had with her those days that she was "alive" I held her, rocked her, breathed her in, memorized her, and told her to let go because there was nothing to fight for. A brain dead baby born in a coma has nothing to live for. No hope. No future. So we pumped her full of morphine and hoped that she would somehow forget to breathe. Quickly. I thought during those days how pathetic it is that we don't allow for euthenasia in this country. We can put down a dog who is suffering, but not a human. For Addison, it would have been the most ethical, loving and kind thing to just end it for her. I felt that way then; I feel that way now; and I will live with the guilt forever for having these feelings. I can justify them in my head, but to be a mom with those feelings toward her own daughter...well, that is unforgiveable. The week she lived was hell, and my life has become hellish ever since. Perhaps I will choose to punish myself forever for hoping, during those horrible days, that she would just die already.

I know, now, that I can never replace Addison. I would never even want to try. I think in those first weeks and months after she died I subconsciously thought I could replace her in a way. Like, if I just got pregnant and had another baby, it would create a wrinkle in time that would undo Addison altogether. With 8 months of grief under my belt, I'm now fully aware of the emotional trials and tribulations I will likely endure during a future pregnancy. I follow enough blogs to know there is no such thing as a "happy ending" after losing a child. I turned 36 a few days ago. I thought I would be done having babies. And yet, our family seems incomplete without 2 living children. I realize that the overwhelming emotion I have surrounding a potential future pregnancy is fear. That's not even a strong enough word to accurately describe how scared I am--about everything pregnancy related. I know too much. The door has been opened and I have entered, against my will, a world that I never even wanted to know really existed.

And yet, I've begun peeing on sticks for the first time in my life. I've been pregnant 3 times. I have timed sex 0 of those times. I've certainly never peed on a stick to figure out likely ovulation. But I'm getting older, and the fear that I won't be able to get pregnant "by chance" is one of my oh-so-many fears:
I'm afraid I won't be able to get pregnant.
I'm afraid to have a daughter to show me what Addison could have been.
I'm afraid to have a son, which would mean never raising a daughter.
I'm afraid the pregnancy will end early.
I'm afraid to have a c-section too early.
I'm afrait to wait too long and having the baby die before birth.
I'm afraid the baby will have a chromosomal disorder due to my age.
I'm afraid I will have to make a real choice about the future of my unborn baby.
I'm afraid the baby will be born with severe problems.
I'm afraid the baby will die of SIDS.
I'm afraid I will lose everything I currently have and everything I don't even have yet. I'm just plan afraid.

Forget grief and rage and guilt (the standards I've been feeling). Overwhelming fear is the current overriding emotion right now. And even with fear in my soul, I have to do it. I don't want to wait. Even without trying to get pregnant, I'm scared. So I guess I'm not choosing to face the fear; I'm choosing to continue down my path in spite of it. And what if....everything worked out. What if I got the line on the stick and conceived and got the line on the "other" stick weeks down the road and the baby lived and thrived in my womb and it was born healthy and lived to be able to tell me "I love you." What if. I will still mourn our loss of Addison. And I know our family will never be complete without her. But such is life. I have no other choice but to continue living in spite of the pain and fear. I guess I'll just shoot good thoughts out into the universe. Universe, would you please cut me some slack?


  1. I wish I could take the fear away but we all know too much now. 'I'm choosing to continue down my path in spite of it' sums it up really. Hoping you're pregnant soon.

    You'll not awful for thinking of Addison that way - no parent wants to see their child suffer when there's no hope. Once we knew Matilda was going to die, we didn't want to prolong things either.

    Maddie x

  2. I had the same thoughts. I felt disgusting for thinking full of rage for having to think them. I've been thinking of you alot and wondering how you've been. I feel god-awfully settled into this life without him...nauseatingly so.
    We are trying to get pregnant again without much luck. It took 7 years of trying to have Andrew so I'm not keeping my fingers crossed. I think I'm sending out too much bad karma into the world so I'm trying to work sending out good thoughts as well.

  3. Well said.

    Just yesterday I was hit with a wave of guilt and grief while driving home. our daughter was born with trisomy 18 (that wasn't diagnosed in-utero). I remember seeing her for the very first time after I gave birth... Acacia was held up to my face ever so briefly as they rushed her out of the delivery room to the NICU. I saw her and I knew something was very wrong. I thought she had down syndrome. Shortly after that my husband guessed it was trisomy-18. I hoped my daugther would die. I knew odds weren't good for her life, and part of me didn't want her to suffer, and part of me didn't want to suffer either. But even now, 9 months later w/ lots of support from friends, family and my therapist, I almost hate myself for having thought that. What mother wants their child to die? And how shitty to be in a situation where that thought even makes sense. I was thankful that my daughter did live for a couple of days so I could get over myself, meet her, and spend time being with her, as she was.

    And ttc - what a crazy ride that is! It can be crazy making! I'm trying to relax with it and enjoy the ride - much easier said than done some days. :)

    Hang in there with your grief and fear. It seems to me that facing it head on now, and sitting with it now, will serve all of us babylost mommas well in our future, and that of our children - both living and dead.

    Hugs to you!

  4. wow. so much of this post resonates with me. Especially grief as a 'slow painful drift through time', and the FEAR of ttc and pregnancy.

    My daughter also died as the result of brain injury due to lack of oxygen. And I also wished she would go quickly when they took her off life support and she was struggling to breathe on her own. The guilt that comes with this is disgusting and horrible, and no parent should ever have to live through it. (but we are)

    What I try to think about when thinking about ttc again is "what if....what if I get pregnant, and in 9 months have a healthy screaming baby?" what if it all DOES work out for us?
    sending good thoughts your way.

  5. I'm so very sorry for your tragic loss, I pray that you are able to conceive again & never have to deal with the loss of another child. I stumbled upon your blog in search of others who have dealt with infant loss. We lost our daughter a week ago due to premature labor at 23wks into my pregnancy. Although terrible to know there are so many who have dealt with such awful grief I find some comfort in knowing I am not alone.

  6. "Fear.That's not even a strong enough word to accurately describe how scared I am--about everything pregnancy related. I know too much. The door has been opened and I have entered, against my will, a world that I never even wanted to know really existed."

    That's exactly it, isn't it.
    I check in to hospital tomorrow night to be induced and for all intents and purposes I should be holding a healthy baby sometime Friday. Even though I am SO CLOSE I am STILL scared - scared of losing her at this late stage - just like I lost her sister.

    I hope that you fall pregnant soon. The only thing scarier for me than falling pregnant again was not falling pregnant again. Having no living children.

    Please keep us posted x

  7. I just came across your blog yesterday and am so sorry to read about the loss of your beautiful daughter.

    One question for you - did your doctor do weekly non-stress tests on you during the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy? The reason I ask is because I am 35 and due with my third child in 7 weeks, and my doctors told me at my first visit that they would start doing these weekly at 37 weeks due to my "advanced maternal age". Initially I thought it was overkill and unnecessary, but after reading your blog I am somewhat comforted by this.

    So sorry again for your loss.

  8. Hi Angela,
    No, I never had a NST during my pregnancy with Addison (I turned 35 in late June and she was due early November). My doc never mentioned it, and the thought never occurred to me, either. My pregnancy was totally "normal" and uneventful until that night, at 38.5 weeks, when she stopped moving. My vote is that you go to your appointments and NSTs with a smile, knowing what they could possibly prevent :-) Thanks for reading and commenting. I wish you a safe and comfortable final 7 weeks of pregnancy! Rebecca

  9. Thanks for your response, Rebecca! I too spent most of this pregnancy 34 (I just turned 35 a week ago), which made their tests sound even more strange to me, but I guess it's at which age you deliver and not when you conceive. I will go to my NSTs and hope for the best.

    I've bookmarked your blog and look forward to sharing this journey with you. :)