Monday, May 26, 2014

** 10 weeks

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was nothing but excited.  Even from weeks 6 to 12 when the morning sickness was in full gear I just couldn't wait to become a parent.  I nibbled on saltine crackers and apple slices feeling sick as a dog, but the whole time thinking "This is going to be so worth it in the end".  Boy was I right!  The day Gwenevere was born was perhaps the happiest day of my life.  All of that nausea and heartburn was definitely worth it.

Unfortunately with my twins I learned a hard lesson that sometimes it isn't worth it in the end.  When I was pregnant with them my morning sickness was literally twice as bad.  If I wasn't vomiting I was laying on the bathroom floor writhing with waves of nausea.  After two weeks of being unable to even care for my 1 year daughter I started taking prescription anti-nausea medication.  They helped enough.  I stopped vomiting but I still had constant nausea.  I was only able to eat apple slices, crackers and baby food purees of applesauce and pears (only with plastic spoons, because the metal taste made me gag).  Through it all I kept up my mantra "This is going to be so worth it in the end".  This time I had the anticipation of bringing home not just one baby, but two and I was trilled beyond belief.  Sadly, all I came home with from the hospital were flowers and two memory boxes filled with trinkets donated by volunteers.  In the end it was not worth it.

Now I find myself right in the midst of 1st trimester hell once again.  I am 10 weeks pregnant today, so I know if just a couple of short weeks the misery will be over.  I am once again on prescription anti nausea medication after being admitted to the hospital for dehydration.  I find myself wanting to go back to my mantra, but I can't.  I feel angry and bitter about this morning sickness.  I know that this could end in one of the happiest days of my life, or one of the saddest and I'm finding it hard to be optimistic.  I am ashamed to admit that the other day while crying I told my husband "I don't want to be pregnant".  It's not that I don't want this baby, I do.  It's just that I want to not be at this point.  Had our twins been born healthy and lived we would have been done having children.  I want to be there, not here.

I know that if we are able to make it to the end of this pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby I will fall so instantly and deeply in love all of this won't matter.  I will say that I would have been sick every day for a year if it meant having this baby.  I also know if this pregnancy doesn't result in a healthy baby my saddness and anger will just deepen.  I just don't know if I can handle that.  So while I can't really put my heart into it and believe, I will try.  "This is going to be so worth it in the end"!!

Healing a Broken Heart

Last week I read an article about healing from infant loss.  This is nothing new as I am constantly seeking out ways to heal my broken heart.  As far as I've come in the past 19 months, my heart still aches.  Unlike most of the articles I have read this one had a line in it that captured my attention.  It said, "If your broken heart is going to heal you have to give yourself permission to not think about your baby".  The article went on to explain that it's normal to think about your dead child/children all the time.  But sometimes it can be easy to become wrapped up in the what ifs. Since I read those words they have been whirling around in my brain.  Yes, I do need to give myself permission to not think about Penelope and James every day, every hour, every minute.  But giving myself permission and following through are different challenges. 

Several months after losing my twins it became pretty obvious that I was suffering from PTSD.  Whenever my eyes closed I would have vivid flash backs of the moments leading up to their death as well as watching them die.  I couldn't escape those images and thoughts.  I would often lay in bed at night fighting with my brain to just turn off.  I also became overwhelmed with anxiety that my living daughter would die.  Two months after we lost the twins my daughter had a severe allergic reaction to cashews.  Watching her sweet little face swell up with hives as I held her in my arms giving her an emergency breathing treatment in the urgent care was almost more than I could take.  Riding in the ambulance listening to her cries and feeling helpless.  For the weeks and months following her allergy attack I struggled.  I couldn't eat meals with her for fear that she would react to something.  I would constantly lift her shirt to scan her for hives and if I saw anything she got a benedryl. With lots of time and the help of a great therapist I was able to work through my intense anxiety.  I still worry, it's hard not to.  But the intense feelings have faded.

To help relieve my PTSD and anxiety I had to give myself permission to feel it.  When I felt the anxiety rushing over me I had to do the opposite of what I wanted to do, and just let it happen.  Instead of running upstairs while my daughter was eating I would sit at the kitchen table and  feel everything and let it run it's course.  I learned not to fight it, not to block it out, but to accept it.  By accepting the feelings, knowing that in a few minutes they would get better, I was able to get through it.  Now those moments come so infrequently that I have almost forgotten about it.

Now that I am through most of my struggles with anxiety I find myself trying to give myself permission to live my life.  This is a really hard step for me to take.  I'm sure it's a step that many people think I should have taken long ago.  But the truth is that up until this point I haven't been ready.  I knew from day one that this grieving process would be a timely one for me.  But I feel like I am there.  I am at the point where I am ready, not to forget my son and daughter, but live life like they never got a chance to.  I know it will still be a slow process.  I have begun to put little things away that remind me of them, which has been really hard.  In some ways I feel like I'm disrespecting them.  But I also know that they will always be in my heart regardless of how many photographs I have around the house.  Penelope and James were loved, they are loved, and they will always be loved.  I give myself permission to trust my love for them and not think about them.