Saturday, August 2, 2014

Right where I am: 2 years, 11 months and 29 days

I've been so painfully silent on this space for so long - almost a year - that it's hard to know where to even start. There's so much to say, but it jumbles all together in my head and my heart: the joy, the pain, the struggles, the happiness, the growth, the setbacks. I'll pick it up somehow and bring you all forward with me. I credit Angie from Still Life With Circles for reminding me to write my grief as it is today. It feels like a good place to start.

In two days, we will be at the 3-year anniversary of Aliya's water breaking. 4:50p.m. PDT. In three days, the anniversary of my induction and their deaths and deliveries...the start of our real Hell. For much of the last year, Aliya and Bennett have felt very distant, almost like losing them was a lifetime ago, something that happened before I was me. Mothering a living child after losing our worlds has been very, very difficult and not at all what I imagined. I had no mental space to grieve. I wondered whether I had really just successfully moved forward without them, somehow. The only thing I've really felt for sure, based on how Asher's first year went for me, mentally and emotionally, was that I have serious, serious doubts that I could have actually mothered Aliya and Bennett if they had survived.

As Asher's first birthday approached, my grief resurfaced, and I found myself in tears and struggling to manage my anxiety (despite continued counseling and Pa.xil). I can't say I honestly felt what I'd been missing out on with the twins, because it wasn't that. Perhaps it was that he was finally reaching such a huge milestone, one that also brought the risk of losing him to SIDS down to negligible. He had been sleeping through the night for five months, he was growing and thriving, showing his personality, and was about to be celebrated by all of our family - both sides - for the first time since his birth. I was full of so many emotions...and also a lot of regret that his first year hadn't been "better"...that I hadn't been better. I guess that's it. Regret breeds regret, which leads to guilt and sorrow...and those roads lead to Aliya and Bennett.

Now, right on the cusp of our 3-year anniversary (how is that even possible?), even though just a few days ago I remarked to another BLM I know in the flesh (who lost her daughter 11 years ago, so is a veteran) how ok I was at the time...now, for the last two days, the tears have been freely flowing, right under the surface. Last week the dates meant nothing to me (I had to really think about them and their significance to our loss story), but BOOM, yesterday, August 1st, it all came flooding back. It's a cluster, timing-wise...I decided to wean myself off the Pa.xil last weekend (yeah, don't know what I was thinking), I'm PMSing (and spotting, incidentally, the exact same color and consistency as I was this time 3 years ago, although this time it only harkens my cycle, not impending tragedy), and it's anniversary week. Paul's left to go fishing last night, so I had the house and Asher to myself. The anxiety gave me a run, causing me to shut and lock any windows that could possibly allow an intruder to slip in overnight, even thought it was so damned hot in the house and I knew shutting those windows would prevent a good cooling off (I was right). Then, getting ready for bed, I needed Asher. He was sound asleep, but I crept in and put my hands on him to feel him breathe (like Paul and I both do every.single.night, just to be sure). I sat in his rocking chair, quiet as a mouse, listening to him breathe. He stirred, and I then felt like an idiot because if he awoke, it would be my fault! (He didn't, and I was able to slip back out, undetected.) Today, while he napped, I watched Notting Hill...and even the sweet places in the movie that bring me to happy tears then brought me to sobbing for myself, my babies, my fears. God help me.

Sometimes it pulls at my heart to see 2-year olds playing together, but not always. I always notice twins still, but, thankfully, rarely see girl/boy twins of that age. But as Asher works on standing and walking, and is becoming increasingly in need of reassurance and hugs (mama, really), that's where it grabs me. I am missing those hugs around the neck. I am missing those silly grins and the belly laughs...the sharing of blueberries and pacifiers, the "MumMum" and "Mama". And that hurts so much.


Friday, August 16, 2013

The truth

I wrote the following post over a period of days a couple of weeks ago. I've tried blogging several times over the past month and just wasn't able to finish "adequately". I'm happy to say that a couple of weeks in Asher's development (and some meds for me) have made a bunch of difference, so the below is a reflection of where I have been...not where I am now (thank God!). Still, in the interest of honesty, I thought it relevant to publish, so here it is. I'll work on a more up-to-date entry (with photos of my little man!) soon.

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I have had posts rattling around in my brain for weeks, but no energy, time or presence of mind to actually write them down. I decided to put Asher back down to sleep after our 4 am feeding session so I could pump, and then thought, Hell, sleep would be nice, but I'm making myself crazy with the lack of blog posting. What stays in my brain causes me stress and strife, sort of like the feng shui adage, a cluttered house is a cluttered mind.

The last six weeks have been a blur, of course. I wish I could say a blissful blur, but that would be a lie.

I know what I'm about to write is normal - and I say this because I recently was given a booklet filled with essays written by moms, and could relate to nearly all of them - but life as a new mother is painfully difficult, stressful, self-doubt-filled, and not at all the dream I always imagined.

I guess that's part of the issue; as I read on another blog recently (forgive me for being unable to remember whose, but know your words are important to me!), all these years of infertility (it would be six in October), the loss of our twins and all the heartache associated with the two led me to focus so much on getting and staying pregnant that I really wasn't prepared for what comes after (when disaster doesn't strike). The last six weeks have been filled with mind blowing exhaustion, frustration of not understanding what this crying baby needs when all the obvious issues have been addressed, the emotional and physical pain of breastfeeding problems, the complete lack of time for myself, fear that I'm doing things wrong, feeling that I - who used to be so organized and on top of things - can't manage my time to save my life, wondering if I was cut out for this at all, thinking that perhaps that's why my twins died, because I couldn't have handled them, etc.

Layered over top of all of this - and probably behind a lot of it - is postpartum depression again, with a healthy side of its bitchy sibling, postpartum anxiety. Yep, despite my best efforts (as if we have control over these things) and the frantic consumption of my dehydrated placenta capsules as per label, PPD again has clouded my mind. I thought I was ok, but I will fully admit that the feeding issues with Asher really brought me to my knees, so that one day I was ok, and the next I was telling my counselor that I was concerned about myself. She told me I have "moderate to severe"PPD/PPA, had the talk with me about intrusive thoughts (bad thoughts that aren't things I'd come up with on my own but that are pervasive and overwhelming), and encouraged me to see my naturopath (today) for drug-free support options (if there are any). I've mentioned before my history of major depression; this obviously isn't my first rodeo. What I can say with conviction is that while there are times I have no interest in things and feel completely overwhelmingly depressed, most of the time I am very functional, 100% able to care for and bond with my son (who I am so in love with!), able to (and desiring) a shower and clean clothes, etc. I have little to no appetite (a symptom), I have a hard time seeing things with a positive eye, and am glad I still have 5.5 more weeks left of my leave so that hopefully, by the time I go back to work, I will have dug myself out of this with help and can go back feeling confident in my abilities to manage my life. Right now, a lot of the time, not so much. I've found myself cursing this town I live in for being so far away from my family and friends (because, damn it, it does take a village to raise a child, but moreso for the support of the mother, I think). I do have a dear friend who lives 45 minutes away from me and is also a mom of a little (Asher's best friend!), and we spent a few hours just talking and walking in the mall yesterday, something I really needed and wouldn't have done by myself. (Wouldn't you know, this child of mine, who lately is fighting every nap during the day and is therefore prone to major, epic, turning-purple/not-making-vocal-sounds/full-body-sweat meltdowns once or twice a day - to the point where he can only be interrupted by blowing in his face - fell asleep and slept almost the entire time in his stroller.)

One thing that has had frightening and disappointing familiarity is the speed at which people - mostly other mothers - discount the feelings and experiences of those of us dealing with troubles in what should be a blissful time. From having people tell me 10,000 times that at least my child can eat (don't say this to a babyloss mom...we know all to well what the alternative could be, and it probably isn't the one these ignorant women who say things like that would even think of), that it doesn't matter whether baby is fed from the breast or bottle (believe me, for someone like me, whose body has failed in this becoming-a-parent job so many times in so many awful, terrible ways, it DOES matter!), I am reminded  (and revisited by that sick feeling in my stomach) of all the unintentionally hurtful things people (mostly women!) said to me after we lost the twins. Why is acknowledging someone's feelings and experience so difficult, so that instead we have to discount or one-up or minimize another?

Asher is wonderful, beautiful, perfect and still, unbelievably, mine. He has started smiling and cooing this week, and it's divine (and couldn't come at a better time for me emotionally). He knows I am his mama. My heart melts when his little hand grabs my arm in the middle of the night as I burp him after a feeding, when I'm the one who can ease his crying. I know I can meet his needs, maybe not the way I want to, but in a way that satisfies him (minus the over-tired meltdowns...still trying to figure that part out, and CIO sleep training is not something that Paul and I are comfortable with, thank you). We did end up taking him to a Portland ENT on July 8th after having a private Facebook conversation with the doctor late on the evening of July 6th (a Saturday!), where Asher was diagnosed with a stage 4 upper lip tie (ULT) and stage 4 posterior tongue tie (PTT), the most restrictive kinds. Mother's intuition is alive and well. We are thrilled we pursued this so aggressively. Even if Asher and I never have a full time breastfeeding relationship when it's all said and done (we're still trying, and making some headway), Paul and I know that by having his ties laser corrected, we will avoid the awful tooth decay, speech problems and head and neck issues usually associated with ties like these. (Turns out I'm tongue tied, too, and never knew it...and I am plagued with head and neck tensions, TMJ issues, etc.) The procedure was very quick, relatively painless, and probably easier on Asher than the stretches we had to 4 times daily for the subsequent three weeks were. (He and I both cried the first time, but it got easier, and now we're done.) I took him back to Portland two Fridays ago to visit with a highly recommended lactation consultant/herbalist/craniosacral therapist, and that was super helpful. Thanks to her, we are now breastfeeding at least once a day using a nipple shield for a deeper latch (he still hurts me without a shield). I am having supply problems despite a tincture she blended for me, so I may have a drug in my future to help with that...if I decide to continue with this. It has been terribly disappointing and frustrating, and the supply issues make it really hard to not internalize this experience and beat myself with it (even though Asher's anatomical issues caused it all to begin with, and I would certainly never chastise HIM for it!).