Do flat balloons ever fly again?
For the past 3 months I’ve been rhetorically questioning myself, ‘should I write or shouldn’t I?’ I knew there’d never be an answer, but time to mull often draws you to a conclusion anyway.
Quite a few people asked me if I’d keep writing. They followed our journey and maybe they want to hear more.... But really, my subject matter has past its due date.
Most of the time writing feels rather redundant now. Then other times it feels completely natural to keep the story going. To walk people through the lifting and falling cloud of grief. To keep friends aware of where you’re at in the wake of it all. After all, keeping the long lost in the loop was why I started typing in the first place.
They say grief is a process. And even in 3.5 months I can see the course of it changing.
I keep an open Word doc for blog thoughts, and just note down thoughts and phrases as they pop in my head. Back in January I wrote this…
“Honestly this initial post baby grieving has been easier than I imagined. But what did I imagine… I’m not sure. I guess a lot of seclusion. The feeling of not wanting to see people, not being able to face situations, and I guess months of mopping up tears and smeared eye make-up.
There have been moments of absolute sadness and a literal overflow of grief and tears. But in all honesty, they’ve been few and far between… and now almost seem a distant memory.”
That very afternoon, friends announced the birth of their baby girl on Facebook, and my proud capable self was smacked in the face with an overwhelming feeling of anger. I completely lost it. Spent the afternoon and evening with tears streaming, feeling completely sorry about my situation. Which was probably just what I needed to do.
Since then things have gotten harder. As school and kindy went back in late January, I realised I’d been in a holiday bubble only seeing people who knew Nina’s story over the summer break. So I blithely rocked up to kindy again, no longer pregnant, no baby in my arms... and no-one said anything. Still, 5 weeks in no-one there has said anything (except two friends who already knew). There have been a fair few smiles and ‘hi’s’, but nothing more. It leaves you feeling rather invisible, like nothing ever happened, when probably the most affecting thing in your life just happened.
Same story at school and other things we go to regularly.
For two weeks it made me really frustrated – ‘honestly are people so wrapped up in their own worlds that they can’t even work out that something major happened here?’, ‘do they just not care?’, ‘why does everyone ignore it?’, ‘are they scared, oblivious, or just uncaring?’ I don’t know. But I know well that ignoring it hurts far more than mentioning it.
I came to the conclusion again that honestly, I can’t do anything about what people do or don’t do. I just have to suck it up, get on, and not get bitter about it.
But there is a balance between just sucking it up and staying silent, and bringing it up when appropriate.
I missed the mark on that recently. I was walking home from kindy after dropping Jake off, with an empty pram. A man was moving his wheelie bin and said to me in a joking manner, ‘Looks like you lost your baby somewhere!’.
Now I had imagined a moment like this before and how I’d deal with it. Do you just zip it or let your spite flow and put them in their place?
I started explaining that I’d just dropped my kid at kindy, and then I stopped myself… No, I’m just going to say it. ‘Actually I did just lose my baby. She died in November.’
His response? Well, he just wheeled his bin off laughing.
Cool. Well that went well.
I put the laughing down to him being foreign and not understanding me, because really, who laughs about a dead baby?! Then I cried all the way home.
Now, I just laugh about it too, because honestly what more can you do? It’s a strangely humorous story. One thing it did show me though is that spite doesn’t make you feel any better. I actually felt quite guilty about the whole thing, like I should have just shut up and not let my grief out on this poor unknowing guy. Oh well, it happened. Not a biggie in the scheme of things.
And things have got better since those few weeks. Soon you soften (if you let yourself). Your expectations of people’s actions, or lack of, fall away. It hurts sometimes, but it just is what it is. Life moves on and your story becomes less and less relevant as time passes. Not to you of course. But that is the truth of it. It was a moment in time, particularly in our case as Nina only lived hours.
The thing people do ask though, if they know the story, is ‘So how are you doing?’ Nice of them, but it depends on the person how I answer. I can’t be bothered getting deep and meaningful with everyone. I just don’t have the energy. Being vulnerable is draining. And how I’m doing does change day to day.
I’ve mulled this picture over for a while now, and I guess I feel like a week-old balloon…. You know the ones you find lurking under the kids’ beds or coddled in a corner. There’s still life in the old thing, but it’s not 100% perky.
I’ve lost any pumped up feeling about life and I’m just a little flat. Joy in life can still be found. And I can be bouncy when I need to be, but most of the time I just feel like bobbing around quietly, left to my own devices. That’s not saying I’m feigning happiness when out and about, and as soon as I step inside the door at home I just want to curl up in the corner. Well, not always ;). But there is a constant feeling of not being 100 – just a slight heaviness that weighs you down, like your brain’s subconsciously assessing every situation you’re in, how to read it, how to react, and how to regulate your emotions.
I dunno when you get back to 100%? Maybe you don’t. And what does 100% feel like anyway!? I’m sure I’ll find ‘normal’ again. Or maybe just a new ‘normal’.
There’s still a lot to walk through. Big wearying things for us to consider about what happens next, which we’ll get to when the raw edges of grief have rubbed off.
If (and that’s a ginormous IF) we decide to keep walking the kid journey, I’ll keep you posted, cause that’s an opinion piece and a half! (I can hear my midwife groaning!)