Thursday, August 24, 2006

There has been a lot of discussion today on one of my grief support groups about what's "normal" behavior and what emotions are "normal" early in the grieving process. Someone wanted to know our opinion of using medication to smooth out the edges while the pain is so sharp. I told her that she knew herself better than we did, that if she felt she needed meds, then she should be willing to consider it as an option. But all of her 'symptoms' felt like they were exactly what a woman should be dealing with just a couple months after losing a child. It didn't seem to me that she needed meds, but that she needed time and support, and understanding.

It has had me thinking all day though, about whether I should consider professional help, or if I should have after losing Alexis. These are my thoughts:

Crying has become a daily part of my life. It started 5 years ago when I lost my daughter Alexis. Every crazy thing, from commercials, to TV shows to other people's babies, all made me hysterical. Even my own kids. When Bren, then 4, rode his bicycle without training wheels the first time, all I could think about was how Alexis would never learn to ride a bike. Right after her death I had a preacher show up at my door, offering to pray for me. I chased him across my yard - crying like a loon, screaming, "300 people prayed every day for my daughter, and what did it get her!? Don't do me any damn favors!" I went back and forth between a bone-deep sadness to anger like you've never seen.

When I found out I was pregnant again 2 years later I started to feel better, cry less. It was a hectic time in my life, and I was distracted with survival, and with the promise of this new child I was carrying. That lasted until Terra was born and looked EXACTLY like Alexis. So much so that we often called her Alexis by mistake when we first brought her home. Again, I cried, all the time. I thought I was losing my mind. I couldn't look at her without feeling like the whole world had turned inside out. I went back to work when she was 3 weeks old, because I couldn't stand the things I was thinking and feeling. I would have to remind myself that she WASN'T Alexis. I'd sneak into her room at night and make sure she was warm and pink and breathing. I gave her everything she ever wanted, for fear I'd lose her too. I held her constantly, and even now, at 3 yrs old, she's spoiled and generally gets her way. We call it "Post-Alexis Syndrome." Those first few months are such a jumble of emotions that, looking back, I wonder why I wasn't admitted to the psychiatric ward.

I was better and rarely crying by the time I found out I was pregnant with Nova - until we found out that he had what we thought at the time was exactly what Alexis had (ToF.) Then it all came back again, plus the fear and tears for Nova. I haven't stopped crying, on a daily basis, since he was born in December, and of course, more so since he died in April. Now, I can't even stand to look at his pictures, even the ones of him on this blog. I just sort of look past them, around them, but not at them. It's too painful. I never got to hear him laugh, and I've forgotten the sound of his cry, already. I sometimes wonder if he wasn't some sweet dream that turned into a nightmare.

2 of my best friends in the world have children almost exactly Nova's age - the one that lives locally is kind enough not to bring her son when she visits me. I usually dread seeing other people with babies, most of the time I can't look at kids the same ages as Alexis or Nova, without dying a little inside. I hardly ever go out unless I HAVE to, and then I dread it. I haven't even done my own grocery shopping in months. When I do go out, I come home so emotionally drained from "being ok" for all those strangers who don't know and don't understand when I fall apart. I spend a lot of my time pretending that I'm ok, and expend a lot of energy trying to keep myself together. I can do it, if I have to, outside the house, and here online - but my laundry is always piled up, the house is a wreck, I have to force myself to do the simplest things (like showering and remembering to make dinner.)

And then other times I feel SO ok, so motivated to do 1000 things all at once, fundraising, and selling sponsor spots on the Team tshirts, joining the PTO, coordinating fundraising events with my kids' schools, newspaper stories, Awareness stuff, and sometimes, crazy cleaning jags. I cry every day, but I also laugh, a lot. I smile, and I love my kids in ways I never thought of before. The important thing is this - I give myself permission to do all of the above, and not feel guilty about whatever it is I'm feeling.

Should I have gone to a therapist after Alexis? Probably. Would meds have helped me? I have no idea. But I never felt like I wanted to go on meds just because other people couldn't understand how broken I was, and still am. I am afraid that meds would make me numb. Alexis and Nova were my children, and they deserve to be mourned, I deserve the chance to feel my grief, to miss my babies. I don't want to cover my pain in a medicated fog. And I don't want to miss out on any tidbit of happiness that might get lost in that fog as well. And if I was foggy, would I have the motivation to do all the good things I'm doing? I don't know, but I'm afraid I wouldn't.

I know that the woman I was 5 years ago is gone. I also know that the woman I had become as of one year ago is gone. I have been torn down and remade and torn down, and I'm trying to rebuild myself again. Trying to build positive things to lean against on the bad days. Trying to make a difference in my children's names so other people benefit from their lives, and from my loss, and feeling the pain is part of that process. It sucks, it's hard, but I really believe it's how it has to be done, at least, for me.

posted by Erin @ 1:04 AM   1 comments

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Donovan "Nova" LeClair

Monroe, North Carolina
Nova was our second child to be born with congenital heart defects. We lost our daughter at 12 days after open heart surgery in 2001. Nova was born 12/2/05, with Pulmonary Atresia with VSD. He lived 6 weeks after surgery, and passed away on April 6th, 2006. This blog is his story, and the on-going story of how our family is dealing with the loss of our beautiful boy.
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