Friday, March 7, 2008

One step forward, two steps back

My babies are dead.

I can't stop thinking about this today. It's been a bad couple of days. Anxiety and sadness. I realized today that I seem to have passed that horrible raw, bone-sticking-out-of-flesh, pain and weeping stage. Somehow I'm able to contain it enough to put clothes on and go out in public. Function enough to get by. Pretend I'm okay and sort of believe it. A lot fewer episodes of audible sobbing in the shower. The wracking sobs come much less frequently -- in or out of the shower. Of course bathing is, I'm sorry to say, still a challenge. It's gross. Well, it's not good. There's something about being alone in the shower. Or maybe it's just being alone. When I was pregnant, my skin was so sensitive I had to be strategic, cover my chest from the pelting stream of the water.

And it was just me and the babies. my growing belly. I'm really alone in the shower.

It's so stupid. I hate this.

My sister came out to my family about her pregnancy this week. Even though I've known for some time, we told my father, brother and grandmother that she emailed me and then we talked this week. I'm not sure why she didn't want them to know I knew, but it's a common dynamic in my family. Managing information: who knows what when.

So A told everyone to give me some space to deal with this a little bit. No one did. Within 24 hours of her sharing the news, I had heard from my dad (message on my cell), my brother (IM) and my grandmother, calling on the house phone. Thank god for caller id.

I love my grandmother, and have a nice relationship with her, but she calls me All.The.Time. After my mom died (her daughter) and after my grandfather died she began calling me more and more often. Like every single night. With not much to say. She's 90 now, and it's the same stories, same complaints. She takes a ton of medications, but generally she's healthy and has her mind. But she comes from that generation where nobody talks about things. Especially things like "what happened" to me. After we told her about 'what happened" with the boys, my dad told her to give me some space, but she continued to call me almost every day. And whether it's poor memory or determination, she will call several times a night. In short succession. Usually when I'm weepy or trying to eat something.

So the point of this is that that I sort of expected that it would be hard for her not to call to check on me, that she wouldn't be able to give me any space with this news. And so despite her propensity for not talking about things, she did indeed call to "make sure I was okay." Which is what she's been doing. I usually tell her I'm fine, or I'm sad but I'll be okay, mostly because she really wouldn't know what to say to try to make me feel better. And she worries. So I do the taking care of her and tell her I'm fine. This week she called, and I figured I'd just get it over with. So she had to tell me that "what happened to me" has happened to lots of other women. I was short with her, "I know." "It's okay, Grandma, I know I"m not the only one." And that was basically it. She said for the thousandth time that she just wants to know I'm okay. Well, Grandma, you know, I was dealing okay until I talked to you.

Both my sister and my dad try to convince her that I don't want to talk on the phone, that I'm okay, and give me a little space. but it's like her vice-grip on my hand when we would cross the street when I was 16. She needs to make sure.

Just like my dad, who I finally called back. After a few rounds of small talk and some awkward silences (not uncommon with my dad on the phone, but these were (if you'll excuse the phrase) pregnant pauses (oh, the irony). We both knew why he was calling, but he wouldn't say it. So I did.

Me: Did you talk to A?
Dad: Yes.
Dad: ....
Me: I talked to her, too.
Dad: You talked to her?
Me: Yeah, she emailed me and then we talked about it.
Dad: ....
Dad: ...
Me: I'm okay. I'll be fine. You don't have to worry. Not too much anyway.

And so on. He said something about me being a strong or courageous woman, and I said Yeah, you can tell because I'm crying all the time. (I'm the crier in my family anyway, and the SW in group therapy when my mom was dying asserted that crying or other similar shows of emotion were actually displays of strength -- I was always thought to be fragile and weak.) We acknowledged our little family learning/joke and I think I moved the conversation along to talk about how she probably wouldn't be at the wedding, had he talked to P (my brother) about it yet.

So my brother finds me on line, and all he can seem to say is "hey" or "what's up" or other crap small talk, and then disappear after a few lines.

They call to check on me to make sure I'm okay, then make me do all the work to reassure them that I'm okay when I have no idea how I am. Do I have to tell them I'm okay? They know I'm not. At least my dad does. But they need to hear me say it. Cogent and not a weeping ball of mess. Not sure why I need to give them that.

A agrees me with me that it was a good thing I knew a month ago. If they had tried to check in on me right after I found out, it would have been bad. It took me a week to recover from hearing about the pregnancy, probably two weeks after I found out it was twins to stop weeping and eyeing a handful of amb.ien like it was milk and cookies. Actually I did talk to my dad shortly after I found out, either about her pg or about her twins, and I was a huge mess, but didn't tell him why.

I'm just starting to feel non-functional again. I had iced tea and crackers with cream cheese for dinner. Just couldn't make it down the stairs, reheating food seemed like too much work.

I guess A " out" was harder for me than I anticipated. Makes it more real. Makes my boys more gone.


Antigone said...

I had my husband deliver the news and noone called. I thought I wanted to stay in isolation and not talk to anyone but the phone not ringing was far more painful than talking about it with clumsy family.

I've had trouble with the shower but not the bathtub. For me its just motivation. A shower has more of a forward motion to it. I take a shower before I go to work. In the bathtub, I get to just wallow and eventually crawl out and into bed.

I think many of us are pretty stinky.

Sue said...


You do have a point about silence feeling worse than clumsy family. I think I'm just frustrated in feeling like I have to do the work, to help them help me when I just want to be totally passive in receiving comfort.

A week or two after I delivered, my grandmother's meds got screwed up and she called me wondering "what's the point" and she's "ready to go" and I found myself trying to cheer her up or bully her into taking care of herself so she'd feel better. My role in my family is to try to take care of people emotionally, so I've been resenting it lately, when I can't even take care of myself.

luna said...

oh I've dealt with this too. both the silence and the clumsy family. neither is ideal of course, both make you feel isolated and alone. but the sense I got from my family who DID reach out was that they were trying even if they were incapable of supporting me. there was effort, even though they had no clue what to say or how to say it. so although it was not all necessarily comforting, I felt they were trying to support...

one brother I actually had to tell I expected much more from him, like a single phone call. he said he's "just not good with that kind of thing" so he was waiting for everything to settle down. um, well me too. he actually asked me later "so was it awful" a little unclear on the concept. but the point is I think most everyone is, unless they've been there or somewhere like it.

I understand you not having the energy or desire to do the work to help them understand. and you shouldn't have to. it sounds like you're handling it as well as can be expected. I imagine these feelings may continue given your sister's pg. wishing you lots of strength and peace. ~luna

Antigone said...

Hey Ste,

I shouldn't have implied that you had it better than me. It isn't fair to do that. I was just feeling envious. I've been feeling really lonely since the birth.

I can't imagine how I'd handle having to care for anyone else's wellbeing (such as your grandmother's) these days.

It all just sucks for all of us. That's my eloquent conclusion.