Thursday, March 27, 2008

Torn

I never gained weight with my pg (in fact I lost some) because I was so sick. In the 2 weeks between delivery and my post partum appt, I was down almost 20 lbs off my pre-pregnancy weight. My regular clothes hung off me. I couldn't eat. And then I could.

Sugary drinks. M&Ms. Lots of M&Ms. And oreos. The belly is rounder. Things are fitting better, or the way they did before pg. And I hate it. It was almost like my pale skin and sickly skinny frame represented what was left of me after this loss. So people could see I was changed, damaged, grieving.

In Judaism, after a loss, the mourners wear a ribbon with a tear in it for a month, which can be representative of keriyah or the tearing of clothing before a funeral. One of the things I like about my religion/culture (at least among my cohort of reformed Jews) is that there are often many interpretations of the meaning of different rituals. I think the tearing represents the pain of grief, the idea that we will never be the same because of our loss. The idea of the torn clothing is evocative for me. You can patch or sew a tear, but the cloth will never be the same.

Looking back, I realize that during that first month or so I often wore a pair of ripped, worn out jeans, that didn't fit right. I didn't care. And I liked looking sickly. Look how different I am. Look at what this has done to me. I am not the same person. Part of me is gone now.

9 comments:

Antigone said...

It isn't ever the same again, is it?

Yesterday I found myself wishing I had shorn the hair from my head last January. It would have been a visible sign of mourning. Something which could have signified the loss and then the healing as it grew back.

c. said...

On the outside, most people would never know there was anything wrong with me. And I hate that. I want to tattoo his name on my forehead. I want to wear his death on my skin. I want to force people to look at me, to see him, to acknowledge my loss. If I look the same, it is not possible.

niobe said...

I didn't want anyone to know what had happened to me. For a long time, I found it hard to go out of the house because....what if someone saw me at home on a work day and guessed that something awful had happened?

Irrational? You bet. But it somehow made sense at the time.

STE said...

Antigone and C.: I think part of that for me is that as I get more functional, I don't want people to assume that I am just fine, and things are back to "normal."

Niobe: I don't think that's irrational. I delivered on Jan 3 & 4, classes started on the 14th. Emails went out so I wouldn't have to explain to everyone I knew. But in those first 10 days, I couldn't bear to leave the house in case I ran into someone I knew, whether they had found out or not. I felt so guilty and so like a freak.

I still tend to avoid seeing my students from last semester if I can. If they don't know, I don't want to be the one to tell them. They're too young to have any conception of how to understand or respond appropriately. Also, though I've had to do some telling of late, I don't want to fall apart in front of them; don't want to get that close to them. It's too much of a role-switch.

Tash said...

I didn't cut my hair for about 9 months. Hell, it was tough just brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I certainly didn't want to talk or even see people. But when I started going out, I often wish I'd had some marker -- a pin, something -- to let people know why I looked like hell and was crying. I joked about getting a tshirt that said "My Baby Died." Someone told me you could get black ribbon mourning pins online, and I never did but I really liked the concept -- it would let people know why. They could leave me the hell alone. And the people who recognized it and wanted to say something? Would probably be people worth hearing from.

No, the tear never really mends. I think it just gets easier to live with.

STE said...

Tash: I have a great friend, S, the one who's about 20 weeks pg right now, who I can joke bitterly with, even in her current state. We decided we'd start a line of tee shirts for deadbabymamas.

Very Dark:

Maybe one with an arrow pointing down that said "no baby" or another: "Ask me about my dead baby" in primary colors and smiley faces. Bad bad bad.



I haven't cut my hair since mid-August. I had wanted to wait to get through the first trimester, then to stop puking, then the holidays -- then everything went to hell. Luckily, it's long and (when clean) curly, so I can just pull it into a scrunchy and go on my way. Doesn't look great, but I just don't care.

CLC said...

I wish I had a t-shirt like that. I don't know if I would actually have the balls to wear it, but I feel like I need people to know, yet I don't want to discuss it with most of them. But I want everyone else to take a minute from their happy shiny lives to know that mine sucks.

G said...

I was pale and yellow and the dark circles under my eyes made me look like a raccoon for almost 2 months after my stillbirth. (Rightfully so since my OB was an effin moron and I had to have 2 more d&cs...)

I hated but loved it. I wanted to shrivel up too and look like a walking ghost, because that's what it felt like. I wanted people to look at me and think, wow, she is straight f'd up after that. You're damn right I am!

Now, I am finally better and it's uncomfortable. Some days at least. Others, I enjoy the anonymity.

janis said...

I had this protruding belly for months after and hated it because I felt it was mocking me. Now I am almost back to pre-baby weight, but am I happy? heck no. I wld rather be 100lb overweight and have my live baby with me. I was also thinking recently I shd wear a black veil or smth... it is hard to let pple understand that while I am starting to look "normal" again, my heart is still hurting inside. ((hugs)) to you.