Monday, October 22, 2012

The Fog

I've described my summer of 2012 as being the lost summer of 2012, as being under a fog.  I spent the end of May and all of June, July and August in this surreal world...where somehow my baby had died.  Even now, that sounds so strange.    My.  Baby.  Died.

That is something that people don't relate to.  When they hear of it happening to someone else they feel terribly...but I'm pretty sure they don't really look at their own babies, their own children and truly imagine what it could possibly be like if they were gone.  I don't blame them, I was one of them too.  It's too scary, too threatening to fully consider what that could be like.  It's an all encompassing loss, trauma that is impossible to grasp the breadth of it unless you too, have tragically experienced yourself.  I consider myself to be an empathic person.  I'm a social worker, a trained therapist.  I have worked primarily with either children who have survived terrible abuse/neglect or adults undergoing treatment for cancer.  There is no way I could have appreciated how intense this specific grief is.  "Losing" a child is commonly considered "the worst" kind of loss in our society.  I can see why.

So I'm rambling a bit.  Today I had therapy, it had been about 6 weeks since my last session.  Funny how I can be a good therapist with others, though have limited insight for myself sometimes.  I've been speaking about this "fog" of the summer, and referenced that it has now lifted.  My therapist made a simple statement, and all of a sudden my eyes opened.  This "fog" was actually shock.  I was in shock.  Real shock.  Not the kind that is casually thrown around in simple conversation, but rather the kind that follows an unexpected trauma.  The kind that is talked about with anxiety disorders.  Yes, that has been my summer.

The fog has lifted...the shock has abated.  And I am left trying to sift through these memories of my time with Ethan.  I run towards those memories, as I only have 4 days to draw from.  But as I run towards those memories, clinging to them - clinging to Ethan, some of the other memories become intrusive.  Here are 3 examples.

* Several times during those 10 days on the ante-partum floor nurses educated me on what to do in the case of a "cord."  As my water had partially broken it was possible for Ethan's umbilical cord to come out (sorry for the graphic info, but this is my journal so I am trying not to edit too much) unexpectedly - a prolapsed cord.  This is a serious emergency.  If that happened I would have to flip over on all fours, dropping my shoulders and head, hit the alarm bell on the wall, yell "I have a cord" and take a few others steps.  In the moment I dealt with this with minimal emotion but now, looking back, the terror that it strikes is real.  What did I go through?

* There was one time in the NICU that Josh went down to see Ethan before me.  I was pumping in my room and told him I'd be right there, but to go ahead.  I shuffled into the NICU, rounded the corner to look into the room that had Ethan and about 7 other babies.  I saw Josh sitting next to Ethan's isolette and Dr. LaRue was clearly telling him bad news.  I'll never forget it.  More bad news.

* This next memory is the one that I will never forget.  When it happened, I knew I would remember it for the rest of my life.  There was a new mother, her first children (twins) were born the day after Ethan.  They were quite healthy, just a little small (they actually left the NICU before Ethan died).  I was there at Ethan's side when she came in to meet her babies for the first time, right after her section.  She and her husband were often there when something happened with Ethan.  So there's the background.  I rounded the corner again, by myself again.  Josh was home with the older kids.  I had finished pumping again and walked into Ethan's NICU.  The first face I saw when I rounded the corner was that other mother's.  She looked at me, and it was evident she was crying.  A lot.  She was puffy, the red faced kind of puffy.  Her babies were fine, sitting in her arms.  We made eye contact and I realized that she was crying because she knew my son was going to die.  She had been there when Ethan's brain had started to bleed.  When everyone ran over to his bedside.  Then I looked by her to Ethan's isolette and saw more people than I could quickly count.  Maryann, his nurse, put her arm around me and walked me to Ethan.  Sat me in the chair and rubbed my back as Dr. LaRue explained what had just happened.  I remember looking over my shoulder and seeing a partition - you know it's not good when they bring out the partition to give you "privacy" from the other parents.  I didn't need privacy to nurse my child, I needed it to hear that my son's brain had started to bleed...our biggest fear was starting to come true.  I looked up to Maryann and asked if it was time to have Josh come down.  She gave a simple nod with tears brimming in her eyes.

Now that I am no longer in shock, I am feeling the intensity of these traumas.  And it is very difficult. So my therapist and I are considering EMDR to help me move through these memories.  I guess I am moving forward in my grief, and the shock is now over.  Now it's time to face the intensity of what happened.  Thankfully I have a wonderful therapist to help me do so.  And I always have God by my side as well.

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