Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pain is like gas, as Rixa says, and it will expand to fill the container it's in. And so yes, absolutely, each of our pain is unique, our own, and our worst.

And I am realizing that this is at the basis of what I believe: that what I've lost is mine, and my beautiful baby will always seem, to me, as more of a loss than anything else. Just as anyone else's baby will seem, to them, as their greatest loss. And somebody else's boyfriend that dumped them will seem, to them, as their greatest loss. It's just relative.

And in terms of the inability to truly compare?

I speak with the people I counsel about this to great length, this division between our emotional brains, and our intellectual brains. Often, I'm discussing this in the context of guilt: although our intellectual brains understand the doctors who say there's nothing we could have done, that we did the best we could, as mothers our emotional brains are always telling us we could have done more, that our babies might have been saved.
So too this concept extends into this inability to compare. A family member often used to showcase for me scenarios that were "worse" than mine, in an attempt to make me feel better. A baby on life support, where the parent had to turn of the machinery. My intellectual brain tells me, Yes, this would have been worse, far worse, than the peaceful delivery and time I had with Charlotte. But my emotional brain will not allow me to be soothed by this, because this one was not my baby. Nothing will ever be worse to me, than the loss of my baby. I can say, impartially, from an intellectual standpoint, that lots of people got cut a worse deal than I did, with traumatic decisions and failed rescussitations and days and months in no-mans land. But the end, my baby is still dead, so I really can't feel satisfied, or as if I've been given a better lot in life than they have. I'm sad, for my sad reasons, and I'm okay with that.

I'm reading back on this, and almost laughing at my own transparency: at my obvious desire to be allowed to wallow in self pity; at my search for affirmation that such self pity is justified. It intrigues me, as well, how this space provides for me an opportunity to do just that. When, in my everyday life I am hardly afforded the opportunity to speak Charlotte's name from one day to the next, where I walk, talk, and act as any ordinary mother might, here I am indignant: I will feel sorry for myself, I will, I will. Perhaps this is just something I need to hang onto somewhere, and as I wouldn't want this to interfere with the way I live my life, here's the spot to do it.


Jen said...

This made me think, Carol, why would it be bad to feel sorry for yourself? Why would that be something to avoid? I am genuinely curious. It's possible I'm just dense and this is clear to you and everyone else... I hope this is not a stupid question, but if it is I apologize in advance. And to be clear, I am thinking of this separately from how others perceive or treat you, but rather specifically about how you perceive and treat yourself.

Meg said...

I think you have every right to feel sorry for yourself. What happened to you was horrible. And, I'm glad you have this place to vent. We're here to hear and feel compassion for you. Let it out and don't appologize for it. I think we get more out of it then you:-)

Heather said...

This post made me think, too. I think we've all have the well-meaning people who try to make us feel better by telling us worse scenarios than our own, and I thank you for articulating why they never seem to help. Whatever top-notch care we received at the time doesn't change that our babies died.

And I think we all need a place to feel sorry for ourselves. Makes me wonder how pre-internet babylost mamas managed at all.

Gretchen said...

You are too hard on yourself. I'm sorry but the loss of a human life is more significant than losing an idea (e.g., relationship) or a limb. In my mind there just isn't a comparison.

And I don't think you're "feeling sorry for yourself"... but rather stating the facts.

Pixie LaRouge said...

I have suffered grief, and I have had many friends that I have watched grieve and grieved alongside, so I feel fairly confident in my ability to say that, yes, each grief is unique and total, and that each loss and sadness can be the worst. You are correct in thinking your grief is "the worst," though. Losses of intangibles heal, eventually. They leave marks, but healing happens. I lost my twins too soon to know them, and yet that's a loss that hasn't begun to soften, because they were NOT abstracts. A friend who lost her baby days before birth, even though she has three other beautiful children, still misses him, and loves him and yearns for him. Motherhood never ends, so the loss never ends.

Basically, no, you should harbor no guilt at feeling sorry for yourself. You live life, you breath, you love and you are a marvelous mother. This is your place, as Charlotte's mother, to be that person who carries that saddness. And I, for one, am so glad you do, because if you can manage your loss with so much grace, it gives me strength to manage mine that was so much less.