Monday, April 7, 2008


I am in one of those hormonal funks where I am really, truly, convinced that I am totally worthless, have no hope of ever accomplishing anything, and really only my therapist could possibly understand, except that I don't have a therapist.

I am also cognizantly aware that this is only a false sense of worthlessness based on the way my emotions tend to skyrocket to extremes during this, ahem, phase of my cycle...

But nonetheless, I do feel that sinking, awful feeling of being dragged down and overwhelmed by all of these things I am wanting to accomplish and feeling unsupported in doing. Not unsupported. Like everyone thinks its a great idea that I have this group, and I am working so hard to try to get everyone on board, and coordinated, and working well. But it is overwhelming, I have very little time, and no money to hire out babysitters so I could have more time. I would guess that I probably put in about 8 hours a week right now, but if I accomplished everything I wanted to I would probably put in twice that, and still feel this anxious sense that somebody's baby might die tomorrow and there are things I would have wanted to do before to get ready for that so that they might have a little bit of a better experience. Then, there is the added thing that of course I don't get any feedback really for this, I feel personally satisfied with the changes that are taking place but I haven't really spoken to any families recently because the recent losses haven't been families who have wanted to be contacted by our group. So there's this, this working my absolute tail off, feeling tired, and like I'm working really hard but not nearly hard enough, and only biting off about one percent of what I'd like to do. How can I be doing less than everything I can think of, when someone's whole experience of loss could be profoundly affected by what I do or don't do on any given day?
For example, I have this box sitting right next to me of dental stone. I have a can of alginate, too, that's the gel-like stuff they put in a mold and you bite into it to get an impression of your teeth. You can use this same stuff to make impressions of hands and feet, so I bought some off my dentist to learn how to use it so that they can do it at our hospital. then people will have an actual, cast, statue of their baby's hand or foot to cherish and feel forever. Unfortunately the two cans each didn't come with the requisite scoop, so I have to go back to the dentist, and get the scoops, and then I have to find a newborn baby to use as a model, to try to figure out how to do this stuff, and to feel reassured that the little hand really does just wiggle out of the mold like they say it will. Then I have to teach some nurses how to do this, so they can or will actually do this for the patient. So this might all take about 12 hours, all told. Which might take me 2 or 3 weeks. And so what if someone's baby dies between now and then? They won't get a hand cast. That's because I'm not doing what I need to be doing to get it so they can have one. But I can't do it all at once, I can't.

It is in this mood that I currently sit, and think about deleting this whole post, and think, WHY would someone ever want to read this blog? What could there be, possibly, inspiring about reading about my mood swings? That question lingers, but as you ponder this I'll say, I can't afford a therapist, really, so thanks for listening. Really. I am truly sorry to have to put you in the position of listener in this context. But venting really does soothe the soul.

And here's what really sent me spiraling today. Remember new baby Charlotte? I have adjusted to this. I don't think I've called her by name yet, but the shock wore off and I am okay with it, really. So tonight was my night to bring the family dinner. I made them this fabulous chili which you make with all these brightly colored peppers and basil, and mix in sour cream and cheese and it is beautiful to see, and delicious to eat as well. I packed up cookies and fresh bread that Greg baked yesterday and headed over there at suppertime. I was delighted that she offered the baby to me immediately. I am the kind of person who just melts for babies, I could hold them for hours. I don't care whose baby it is, hand it to me, and I will love it. I love how they melt into you, and their soft, smooshy little beings. I love, love, love newborns. So I smooshed on this baby a little, she is just a few weeks old, and her eyes were open and wide, taking in the two inches before her face. She had that soft, soft skin, and such a cute nose... and these little, black spikes on her hair. Her hair was that cute, black newborn hair that you know will fall out really soon. And her mom, (who incidentally called me so sweetly after learning about my Charlotte, which really helped me feel okay about the whole thing) asked me ever so innocently, "Did Liam or Aoife have dark hair like that?" And I said, "No, they had this smooth, light brown hair," which was true. But for some, protective reason, I just couldn't bring myself to say, "Charlotte did," because this baby was also Charlotte, and I just couldn't bring myself to say it to her, to remind her that she had what I once lost, I was doing the thing where you protect the other person at the expense of yourself, and I regret it wholeheartedly.
Why did I not say it? Why? I just felt worried for her, knowing that she knew that it was already hard for me that her baby shared my baby's name, to then add that they also had the same hair style on top of that (and it wasn't really the style, just the color). It wasn't a conscious decision at the time, just a feeling I had, and at the time I didn't feel the depth of the omission as I do now. I want to go back and say it, and let her know that I don't mind talking about it and that I'm okay with everything now. But I didn't. And you can't ever go back, can you.

So this is really the root of my tailspin, as it always is.

You can call it whatever you want. Frustration, anger, guilt, overwhemed... but it all starts at the same place.

Some people think grief is just about being sad, but when it's you, it's everything. It defines your core. It starts everything off. Sometimes it takes a long, long time to recognize.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again. Sometimes I think to myself, I had three babies, but I only parent two. But I don't. I parent three. And I think, sometimes, that the amount of room I need in my mind to parent Charlotte, to take the care of myself, and do the things I need to do, and think the things I need to think, takes up almost as much space as the other two do. It is hard work.


Awake said...

Blogging is great free therapy.

Well, first, you know you're not worthless. Your mission is amazing and you will complete it. Takes time. But you will do it. And, from what I can tell of your spirit - there will likely be a wonderful new idea around the corner when the ones you have are completed. You are doing amazing, thoughtful, peace-bringing work. God bless you.

Oh, and secondly, I only wish my counters were that clean. :)

Aimee said...

You know, I was at a conference recently :) where I was told, "You cannot eat an elephant in a day."

But I totally hear you--what if someone's baby dies tomorrow? For me, it is more of ARGH! Someone's baby died last week or last month or last year...and I wasn't there to help. I hear you.

Jen said...

You ask, why would someone want to read this blog?

This is why I read your blog, Carol- because of the grace in which you manifest your vulnerability and resilience. Because your kindness and generosity are so clear and shining to behold. Because you are such a good mother to your three children. Because you are not content to seek only your own healing but actively work to lessen the suffering of others. Because you honor Charlotte and all babies who die too soon.