I once heard that grief comes in waves, sometimes hitting you randomly and with great force. But nothing could’ve prepared me for the grief after losing a child. Aurora’s death reopened a lot of wounds from losing Sayre and the traumatic way I was treated. The one year anniversary of his death is coming up on November 27th and I’ve noticed a definite shift in my emotional and mental well-being. As soon as the day in September hit when I first found out I was pregnant, I started having some of the same issues as right after Sayre’s death. I became more irritable, felt less connected to those around me, and I felt a mask sliding back into place.
I could feel the person I was at school and the person I was at home becoming two very separate people again. The happy bubbly teacher disappeared as soon as I walked in the door, replaced by a shell. I would try to talk to close loved ones about my hurt and my fears of never becoming a mother, only to be told they want a break from being sad. So I stopped talking. I waited until I was alone to let out the sobs of bitterness and despair.
Everything triggers me right now. I’ve had to remove myself largely from social media because any mention of pregnancy or children sets off an emotional avalanche. I know those around me are tired of feeling like they’re walking on eggshells, but what they don’t realize is this: so am I. I’m so sick and tired of never knowing what will slash across my heart and soul, causing a reaction that is so emotionally painful that my body even hurts.
I spend a lot of my time now blaming myself. I blame myself for my son’s death. I blame myself for my daughter having trisomy 16 that, ultimately, killed her. I blame myself for getting fat from depression. I blame myself for not losing weight because that is surely the reason I’m not pregnant again yet. I blame my uterus for killing babies. I blame my ovaries for not making the best fucking eggs in the world. And I blame myself for being weak and pathetic and feeling like I’m fucking drowning.
I had a panic attack last night. I tried to hide in my bathroom so I wouldn’t bother my husband. Because that’s part of my depression. I hide my pain because I feel like I’m bothering people. He heard me and came in and seeing his reaction only made me panic worse. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t move. All I could do was grasp my husband’s arms and try not to die. Because that’s how panic attacks feel, like I’m about to die. The fear and the sadness were a tempest and I was lost at sea. I managed to get out the words “I can’t breathe” and my husband immediately told me he was taking me to the ER, which only made me panic worse. I knew there was nothing anyone else could do to help me, nothing was technically wrong with me. I thought about how I’d talk my stepfather through his anxiety attacks, counting so he’d breathe with me and come out of it. I tried, but no one was counting with me because he’s dead now too. And deeper into my attack I went.
I’m doing a unit over Poe with my students right now and I pointed out how he referred to Death with a capital D. That’s how I see Death, as someone I know all too well. A being who steals life from inside of me without mercy or remorse. And last night I felt like He was staring into my soul. Death may not be coming for me, but He’s sent his best friends Depression and Anxiety to make my life a living hell.
My panic attack finally ended with me slowly being able to breathe and my husband visibly shaken. I climbed into bed and passed out, exhausted and sore from 15 minutes of torture from my own mind. I’d held my stomach as I cried and struggled for breath and one thought kept coming back over and over again: empty.
I always thought only soldiers and survivors of horrible attacks or events could have PTSD. I never thought miscarriage counted as a horrible event because of the way our society treats it. The main things I got after each of mine was miscarriages happen, they’re sad but they happen to a lot of women. Move on. Sayre’s death was so incredibly traumatic that I don’t remember from November to March. I remember bits and pieces, but I legitimately struggle to remember my birthday or any other event during that time. I have nightmares about my babies dying. And periods have become an awful event each month. Seeing the blood…it’s too much like the days following each D&C. And the always come every month, a constant reminder that nothing lives inside of me. I’m empty.
The waves are getting harder and I’m struggling again. I want to hide away and hibernate, warm and safe, and emerge again in the spring when the memories are less painful. No mother should have to bury her babies, but only one of mine is buried. I don’t even know where Aurora is. No, that’s wrong. I know where she is…a bio waste dump. But I try not to think of that. I try to think of her and her brother in a beautiful garden with roses and peonies, playing in the warm sunlight. Warm, safe, and together while they wait on their mommy to join them one day.
Writing this feels raw and exposing, but maybe it’ll help another woman struggling with the same feelings. Miscarriage is so incredibly isolating and painful. But, if you’re like me and you’re reading this, you are not alone.