Today is Thursday, and I realized this morning that I am no longer sure how many weeks ago Lydie was born dead. We have officially moved into counting in months (4 next week). I'm not sure whether to be relieved by that or not.
When I asked Justin this morning, he who is usually so diligent about 12:14 pm every Thursday, paused. "Seventeen?" he asked.
That seems right, although I'm not wanting and not willing to look at a calendar and count. It occurred to me that if it is, in fact 17 weeks, then Lydie has now been gone half the time I carried her.
The math is so fucking weird.
Lately ever once in a while, I have felt competent at work again. I say something and realize it was thoughtful and intelligent. I wonder where the fuck it came from, because I still feel like all I can think about is Lydie. Even when I sleep. She is always right there on my mind. It's all-consuming. It's exhausting. But apparently my brain is starting to make room to hold her right there while also saying thoughtful and intelligent things about completely different subjects. Progress??
We have a problem dad this semester who is known to call and complain about everything relating to his daughter's collegiate experience (helicopter parent, much?). I've had a few colleagues who have been graciously shielding me from this man, knowing my anxiety is through the roof as it is these days, but the other day, he finally called me. Luckily, I was in a meeting and my administrative assistant took 45 minutes of his complaining for me. I told her, "It's a good thing he didn't get me on the phone. I would have told him, 'Well, my daughter is dead!'" She laughed uncomfortably, but I laughed for real. The good news is, I think my colleagues will continue to screen phone calls for me. And yes, I think I might really have said that. What the fuck are you complaining about??
I was changing in the gym the other day when a couple women told their friend she should take Benedryl to dry out her hives. I almost chimed in, "Yeah, I took Benedryl to help my milk dry up when my daughter died," but then I stopped myself. Total conversation killer.
I've started a six week "meditation through grief" workshop. I've never been someone who can control my mind, and at this point, I'll try anything that might give me a few moments of peace. Last week, I felt like I was reverting to my bad habit of making grief a competition, especially when a woman explained how her 89-year-old husband died. I'm sitting there, thinking "my loss is worse, my loss is worse." And then a woman told about her grandmother, friend, and dog dying, said said when she concentrates on her breathing, all she can think about is how her friend couldn't breathe right before she died. The facilitator looked perplexed, and said, "But you are not your friend. You are separate people." Which made me flip out, thinking, 'Lydie and I were not separate people. You were supposed to be but you were never given that chance. How the hell can you breathe when she can't?' So I wouldn't say that was particularly helpful for me.
I gave it another shot and went again last night. We were asked how we feel our grief physically. I talked about how in the first weeks, I felt so physically empty. And cold, always cold. I'm not sure if it's because I was still supposed to be pregnant and suddenly I wasn't. Or because I could not eat. Or because there was (is) a big gaping hole in my heart. I don't feel as physically empty anymore, but I still feel like I might vomit when the grief hits me hard. And I try to take deep breaths when I get overwhelmed, which honestly, happens a lot. And I carry my stress in my upper-back and shoulders, and I'm pretty sure there were always be tension in those muscles.
Arlene, the one with the 89-year-old husband, talked about how she hasn't cried once since her husband died, how he always wanted to watch sports and now there's no more sports on the tv, how he always wanted carpet in the kitchen and now she finally has linoleum and her floor is much cleaner! And then she continued on that he was 12 years older than her and she wouldn't recommend marrying a man 12 years older than you and he was becoming more like her dad than her husband and they "didn't even interact in bed anymore." I can't make this shit up, and I haven't laughed like that in a long time.
There were two new women there, one whose son recently died at two days old and one whose daughter recently died when she was 21 weeks pregnant. We hugged afterwards and I felt like the old pro, giving them advice about how to make it through the early days, suggesting they come to our support group next week, assuring them yes, it's normal to be thinking about trying for another baby, even so soon after your loss. Almost four months out and I'm becoming a fucking expert on grief and baby loss.
I can't decide if it's a relief to no longer count the days, much less the weeks. I think so? I know I'll be struggling with Lydie's senseless death for the rest of my life. I don't think there's any way that this could happen without shaking me to my very core and changing everything I believed to be true about the world. But I am finding that slowly it is getting easier to function, to parent Ben, to eat, to laugh, to think straight. I guess they call that progress, and I guess that's something the months are bringing.