Monday, May 27, 2013

Small Victories

Tomorrow will be exactly 10 months since we lost Morgan.  In the time since then, I've tried to find joy in the little things, wherever I could.

Before my pregnancy, Target was one of those little things that made my day.  In fact, when we first got married, I would leave my husband at home to tinker, and waste a Sunday afternoon wandering around Target.  At the time, I was blissfully unaware that Target has the world's biggest baby section outside of Babies R Us.  In the time since my pregnancy ended, I've had a love-hate relationship with Target.  It's still my preferred store for little household things, but I hug the outer wall trying to avoid the baby section.

We've been in Nashville for three days, and I've been to Target every day picking up this or that.  Today was the first time that I didn't purposefully avoid the baby section.  In fact, I walked past it and through it several times.  Not only that, I could look at the stuff and not be pissed.  There was some sadness, sure.  But today, I looked at the little onesie with the glittery giraffe and thought it was cute.  Today was more of the longing I felt before I got pregnant with Morgan.  It was the "I want that in my life" versus the "I'm supposed to have that right now" kind of longing.

We'd been hoping that moving to a new city would represent a fresh start, and we've both been in fantastic moods since leaving Atlanta.  Perhaps I'm just hopped up on excitement for things ahead, but I'm claiming today as a victory, none the less.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bittersweet Victory

Ignoring the fact that yesterday was Mother's Day, I should be on top of the world.  On Friday, I defended my dissertation, and aside from some revisions, am Dr. A.  Anyone else would have spent the weekend partying and living it up.  I thought the whole process was rather anti-climactic.

When I started this PhD program five years ago, it was both to better myself and to make a better way for the family we would have.  Last year, I publicly proposed my dissertation, the first official step to making the dissertation happen.  It was May 1, 2012, and I was 8 weeks pregnant.  I had the perfect little plan that I'd get my analysis done by Thanksgiving, have a maternity leave over the holidays, and finish the writing in the spring.  I was also going to walk across the stage today, May 13, 2013, get hooded, get my diploma cover, and smile as chubby little fingers tried to grab my tassel.

Well, that plan did not come to life.  In so many ways, the stress and strain of the past five years was for Morgan.  Well, the struggle is over, but no Morgan.  Since Friday, I've been feeling let down.  Everyone else has been so excited and proud of me for this accomplishment.  I can't bring myself to care that much.  I was kind of excited in the days leading up to Friday, but not so much since then.

It's a bittersweet victory, a booby prize.  Rather than claiming the grand prize, it's like I'll only ever get a series of consolation prizes.  I saw what was behind door number 3, but had to settle for what was behind door number one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm Not Dwelling, I'm Remembering

I read this article today over at Still Standing Magazine.  It's on "dwelling" on your baby's death, and how other people perceive that.  This topic is one which has been on my mind the past week or so, especially in relation to a long-time friend who just had a baby.

On more than one occasion, she has suggested that I get counseling.  The first occasion was just two weeks after Morgan died.  Because I had not talked to HER (pregnant, and happy, and living the life I so desperately wanted back) or returned her ONE phone call, I needed counseling.  To be honest, at that point, I don't think I'd talked to any one other than family, and barely that.

About two weeks ago, we spoke for the first time since her daughter's birth in March.  Afterwards, she emailed to ask if speaking to her had made me feel bad.  Because we've been friends for 10+ years, because we'd been in each others weddings, etc., I thought I could be honest.  I emailed back that yes, I'd been dreading having to talk to her.  As a result, I was definitely on edge during the phone conversation.  I also said that it was like pulling off a band-aid, and that the anticipation of talking to her was worse than actually talking to her.  Her reply was that she could tell I was "still going through it" based on my Facebook posts, and that she hoped I could find peace.  If not, I should consider counseling.

[Note that this psycho-analyzing is being done by an engineer, by phone/email from 700 miles away.]  

This is where I started thinking about "dwelling".  The Facebook posts she's referring to are things that have come across my feed from sites like Still Standing or something similar; things that really hit it on the head what this new life of mine has been like. They're things like "What Not to Say to a Bereaved Mother/Parent".  Certainly not, "Woe is me.  My baby died.  My life is over".  I keep those things here on the blog.  But they've definitely been things that are a heck of a lot more important than the "Scandal" play by play on Thursday nights.  She (and probably other people, as well) has interpreted those posts as "going through it", but in reality, on bad days, I'm certainly not on Facebook.

What this says to me is that if it's not rainbows and ponies, I can't post on FB.  That, my friends, would be dwelling on my baby and the fact that she's not here.  Proof that I'm stuck, living in the past, or not grieving "properly".  But the analogy I keep coming to is this.  As adults of a certain age, we most certainly have older relatives -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, even parents -- that have passed away.  Their pictures are still on the wall and in the photo album.  At holidays or family occasions, we say things like "Remember when Grandma used to..."  My mother still has memories of a chicken and rice dish her father used to make that no one else could duplicate, and he died nearly 45 years ago.  You will always have those memories. Death does not erase or negate them.  Taking Grandma's picture down doesn't mean you didn't have a grandmother.

Pregnancy is an experience, and with experience, comes memories.  To use my mother as an example again, she remembers how my sister would keep up her up all night kicking, and how hot it was when she was pregnant with me.  I guess if your baby lives, you can recount those memories, even 33 years later.  If your baby dies, you have to pack those memories away with the maternity clothes.  Otherwise, you're dwelling and need professional help.  If anything, you remember those few details more finely because those are the only memories you will ever have.  They won't be replaced with new ones.  I will certainly always remember the feel of Morgan's tiny little fists telling me to move after she'd worked herself into a corner of my belly and couldn't get out because of how I was sitting or laying.  It was funny then, and it's funny now.

If remembering is dwelling, or not moving on, then so be it.  My child is not an ex-boyfriend.  Ex-boyfriends?  Oh yeah, you get over those.  Especially if they're alive and well out there, somewhere.  My child?  Not so much.  Because she's not alive and well.