Yup! I used to love the thrill of being whipped around, feeling weightless, strapped down, and completely out of control. I used to love roller coasters – until I ended up on this one. This one never ends. For the last 7 months and 4 days, I have been on a roller coaster with no end in sight. No place to catch my breath and stop screaming for just a short period of time.
I’m so tired. The constant shift of emotions does not stop. I have bad days and better days, good weeks and weeks that seem like they will never end. I perform a 6 hour production every day at school. My students have no idea what goes on inside my head – and most of my colleagues don’t either. That’s how it should be. At this point, I should be able to function effectively and do my job well – and I am. But it’s so exhausting.
Back in December, Hackie and I took our dog, Halee to the vet for her annual check-up. She received several routine vaccinations that she had gotten before. Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong. Halee became very lethargic and though she never lost consciousness, she was unresponsive (wouldn’t look up). She was having an allergic reaction. After some antihistamines and about 10 minutes, she was wagging her tail and on her way to acting like herself. In those 10 minutes, I spiraled into panic and extreme upset. Thank goodness my husband was there. All I could think of was that I couldn’t handle another loss. I needed my dog. It was awful.
I’m on my way to understanding that grief is a roller coaster and that it will never end. I get that there will be ups and downs, long climbs and sudden drops. I will forever live with the pain of losing my daughter. When it gets unbearable is when the roller coaster jerks unexpectedly. You know the sharp hairpin turns that you don’t see coming that leave you with awful whiplash? That’s what the vet visit was – an awful unexpected jerk that was just plain horrible.
Traveling the road to another baby has been a roller coaster in and of itself. Each month hopeful. Each month convinced that this month will be it. Each month new symptoms that surely mean it’s happened. Each month extreme disappointment when I realize my hopes and dreams will have to continue to wait. I’m so tired. Again, the roller coaster of emotions – fear, eager anticipation, frustration, and then guilt. Guilt that perhaps I am too focused on getting pregnant again and not properly grieving the loss of the baby I already had.
I have come to realize that the more time that passes, the more unpredictable my grief becomes. My sadness can be triggered in the most unexpected moments. It used to be that I would replay the events of my labor and delivery in the car on the way to and from work. Now, it does not follow a pattern. It usually plays through my head once a day – but I never know when that will be. My sadness is now connected to a feeling of disappointment. My life is not what I want it to be. It’s not what it is supposed to be. As more time passes and the length of time between Maya and baby #2 increases, I grow more and more disappointed that I don’t have what I want and that it’s not in my control.
In the past month, Hackie and I have done some traveling. Just after Christmas, we went to Washington DC for 4 days. Hackie had never been and I hadn’t been in a long time. We had so much fun. Our days were packed with activities and we ate some amazing food. We talked about Maya and about our future – fantasizing about traveling with our children. We returned feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready for the new year. We were also in the “convinced I’m pregnant” stage. When we returned and found out I was not, the high I had been feeling shifted to a low. I went back to feeling tired and disappointed.
Last weekend, Hackie and I flew down to Florida. My parents are there for a few weeks and we needed a dose of warm weather. The weather was gorgeous. We had a wonderful time sitting on the beach, swimming, going to the aquarium, and enjoying my parents’ company. We wrote Maya’s name in the sand and fantasized about coming back next year with a little baby and taking pictures on that beach. I came back with a nice sunburn, a fresh batch of vitamin D, and a lot of energy. Being in Florida made me realize that I probably have a case of the winter blues. This is probably why I’ve been so tired.
So, Florida was an up, Washington DC was an up, getting unexpected gifts from friends is an up, having a great day with Hackie is an up, getting a look from Halee where it’s clear she is saying “I love you” is an up. I feel them all and I try so hard to soak up the moment and to milk every ounce of joy that I can out of the feeling. The lows are less predictable and are often hard to get past. Walking by the empty nursery, seeing an infant car seat base in the car parked next to me at work, watching the young couple play ‘pass the baby’ while they take turns bowling. Most of the time, the low moments are caused when I’m reminded of what I do not have.
Currently, I grieve two losses. I grieve the loss of my precious Maya, which is something I will do for the rest of my life. I also grieve the loss of the life I had envisioned for myself. A life where taking care of myself and Hackie comes second to taking care of our child. A life filled with sleepless nights, dirty diapers, tons of laundry, and most importantly lots of love and laughter. I will never get my Maya back. I know that. However, I will get that life I had envisioned. Someday I will take care of my child here on Earth. Someday the grief of losing my baby girl will sit elsewhere in my brain as my primary role shifts from mourning the loss of my angel to caring for new life here on Earth. Someday the roller coaster will feel different.