Our family

Our family

Monday, April 11, 2016

Craziness, counselling and control issues

I have quite a few drafts or ideas that I'd started writing, but I haven't really published anything for a while.
Well, let me update you on our grief journey and life in general. Babies are sooo busy and truly a great distraction. It was a huge adjustment having Madeline and the first few weeks were really difficult, but as she came to be a person in her own right to me and not just a baby that couldn't replace the child we lost, as I came to love her and opened my heart to her and her place in our family, that all stopped mattering. It was no longer about how she wasn't Max and I could let myself love her and not feel guilty because I learned that they were mutually exclusive people. I stopped feeling guilty about her having a place in our family and life got easier, for a while.
As things started to slow down and the business of babies and sleepless nights ebbed away, I often found myself really angry. I finally termed it 'hulk smash mad' (ya, I hang out with a 5 year old a lot). Even my husband was noticing and pointing this out, the littlest thing could set me off. Something so minute could go wrong and I would react like it was the end of the world. I started to realize that I was really mad, really reaLLY REALLY MAD that I had these two beautiful children to raise and not my third.... (or really, second child). How do 3 babies add up to 2 children? It's just not fair.
So ok, I'm mad and that seems pretty normal given the situation.
All of this is coming along as Oliver is starting to get very articulate about his thoughts too. Between Oliver's questions about death and my anger and this sense that 'this is our life now' and I didn't quite know where or how we were supposed to go on.... I realized I might need some help dealing with this.
I got myself in to see a counselor who I had seen many years before, I got her up to date on my history and explained that I thought we might need some help dealing with our grief. She was so wonderful to talk to and she reassured me that Oliver would be fine and that with my support and understanding he didn't need to see someone himself. She gave me ideas about how to talk to him and coax things out of him without leading him on or putting ideas in his head. Simply to keep doing what I was doing really, let him talk, if he brings something up ask him how he feels about that, if he's worrying about it and reassure him.
One of the most interesting things that came out of seeing her was that she thought I was doing ok with the grief, she was more worried about this sense of 'what now?' that I had. She started to talk to me about post traumatic stress disorder... I tried to laugh it off, I mean... I didn't go to war! But the more we talked about it the more I realized that she was right and I've since heard a number of friends who lost babies admit that they too were diagnosed with PTSD. Awareness is half the battle, learning to relax... there is no imminent danger to myself or my children, nothing outside of the norm right now. I guess it's about finding a new normal and learning to settle into it, easier said than done.
So after a few sessions talking about that I knew that I just needed to spend time thinking about it and finding ways to allow myself to relax and enjoy life. I was still struggling with the anger, but who or what was it directed at? This counselor was so patient and just let me talk it all out, she would pick up on the smallest thing I said and lead me down the right path. Maybe it's just easier to see when you aren't so close to the situation. Well, I had another big insight....the anger is at myself. I'm mad at myself for being frustrated at the kids, I'm mad at myself for not doing well enough as a mother. I'm mad at myself for not being able to grow and keep Max safe and healthy. I want to be able to make up for not being able to parent all three of my kids, therefor I should be giving %150 to each of the two that I have here. I'm not good enough, I'm not doing well enough.... I realize that that won't bring Max back, but maybe this was my way of punishing myself or trying to make myself live up to being their mother.
I have been trying to hold on to everything so tight, because I know that I can't control anything really, but maybe if I just do better, be more.......
Or maybe I just need to learn to let go, take a deep breath and enjoy the here and now. That's really all we have anyways.

Spring 2015 thoughts and rants

Some days I wish that we had a 'normal' life.... You know, cause that exists! My favorite comment to people who talk about normal anything is that meme I've seen going around...
It's so true, really...
Anyways, I guess by 'normal' I mean that it would be nice not to have to explain my child's obsession with talking about death. At the playground a scrapped knee turns into "Oh no there's blood! I don't wanna go to Heaven mom!" Wow! Oh my, we've got some talking to do....  In the meantime, how much info do I need to give to calm him down? "No honey, you aren't going to die." But also, how much is too much?
An interesting lunch time conversation went something like this....
"well I'm a grown up so that means I'm all done growing."
a few moments later he says,
"mom, you're going to be the first to die....."
"oh really, why do you say that?"
                   As I'm completely terrified for a second, thinking.......

Holy shit! Even his tone of voice was on point, this kid could act in horror movies.
Oh my God, is he going to kill me in my sleep!?!?
                                         "Sleep with one eye open, bitch!"


"because, you're a grown up, so you'll die first..." Still totally deadpan, as if this is nothing more than a fact....

"Oh, well....I am a grown up, but I'm not so old.... I might live a very long time yet, maybe until I'm even a hundred years old!"

Who has to have these conversations with their children? From what I can tell it's only other families who've experienced death in their immediate families, and for little guys it's just so frank. So much less emotional, especially if they were too young to really remember the person or if they person they lost was a baby that they never really had the opportunity to know. They understand that there is sadness and sometimes anger and frustration, and that the sadness is associated with a death. And so there are questions about death and so much conversation.
Sometimes it's very uncomfortable, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't a better preparation for the real world than families who make death a taboo thing to talk about. It is, after all, a normal part of life.

Oliver was two and a half when we lost Max, I didn't think it had a huge impact on him.... but over time I realized that in small ways he was communicating things to me as he could. For the first six months or so he was upset if anyone so much as sniffled, we all got a cold that winter and whenever I blew my nose he was worried that 'mama sad?'. It's been a struggle for me, learning that he certainly picked up more than I thought he did about our experience losing Max. It comes out in bits and pieces and as he brings things up I've been learning to let him talk and try to answer his questions while being very reassuring about death. We've spent a lot of time emphasizing that most people don't die until they are very old.... and wondering about just how much he worries about this kind of thing.