I've been on a downward spiral for a couple of weeks now. I can't seem to escape, not even for a few seconds, the constant replay of Zachary's life, illness, death and all the incidents and details that surround all of it. I know at my core that he is dead and nothing (but grieving) can be done, but somehow my brain and nervous system have been fooled to fight furiously for him anyway. The grief seems to want to consume me. I can't even organize my thoughts and emotions well enough to write about them, as evidenced by my lack of posting here.
Friday was the eighth day in the last two weeks where I awoke with a painful headache and heart-racing panic attacks about Zachary. As I attempted to push through on Friday morning, as I packed lunch and started breakfast for C.T., my mind and body finally hit a wall and gave in to the brewing breakdown. I found myself, in the midst of putting breakfast on the table, completely unable to care for C.T. or myself. Everything in me, except for my tears and racing, panicked thoughts, ceased to function. Fortunately, B was there to step in and care for C.T. and me. The few hours he spent at work felt like an eternity while I was home alone in my fragile state.
I feel stable(ish) right this moment, although I'm still battling the same headache and panic attacks today. It is fortunate for me that B is around for the weekend.
I refuse to feel ashamed of this weakness, of my need for some professional help which I plan on seeking as soon as possible. Zachary died just nine and 1/2 months ago, just as I had worked for years to reclaim a new life, seven and 1/4 years after B.W. died. I have been through hell. Of course I've broken down. I am trying to live with this hell, to play nice, after watching my two-week old son suffer and die. It is amazing that I have made it this far without the help of a professional.
B reminded me today that he hasn't uttered the words Everything is going to be okay since the moments before we learned of Zachary's brain hemorrhage. That's because everything is not okay. Zachary is dead and we are not okay.
My writing will probably be spotty as I regain some kind of foothold.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Several times each day, obvious and seemingly innocuous triggers rip and tear at my hasty facade of normal-ish behavior, bearing witness to the truth and depth of my devastation.
Have you seen this commercial on television?
The innocent "what ifs", the knowledge that these are the questions that keep most new parents awake at night, makes me feel like a leper. Picture me at home on my couch, standing up from my seated position, arched forward like a dragon breathing fire, and screaming at the television: What if he dies?! What will you do then? What if two of your children die?
A female customer a couple of aisles away from me, seems to relish the oohing and ahhing over her baby boy, in the cart. All of the onlookers are enthralled with this little being..., the lady packing her cart in front of the new mother, the cashier, the woman behind her. I literally feel like vomiting. I need to escape. Again, I am the new mother whose baby died. There is no cooing over Zachary, no pride for me to enjoy as strangers admire my precious boy.
Every time I help C.T. with his homework, or he asks me to teach him something new, something beyond what he's learning at school, I am blown away. The books he can read, the rules of spelling he knows to apply, the reasoning skills he uses for problems of all kind. For every bit of learning C.T. does, for every intricate demonstration of his intellect, my heart weeps for the decimation of Zachary's fully functioning brain.
Tears trickle down my face almost every time I trim my finger nails. That mine continue to grow, that I never had the chance to trim his, can eat at me, can stab at my heart, for an entire day.
C.T. is picking up his room in the morning. He kneels down to retrieve a fur bear that belongs on his rocking chair. Out of the corner of my eye I watch as he gently scoops the bear, both arms underneath, careful not to bend its arms (one of which has fallen off and was carefully reattached.) C.T.'s touch is so delicate, so tender, even as he is totally unaware that he is being watched. I am whisked back to the one long day that he was able to kiss, hold and caress his brother. He loved Zachary so purely, so fiercely yet gently. It is just too cruel.
Strategizing to avoid driving past the hospital where he lived his life and died is exhausting. A glimpse of that building fills me with fury at the layers of carelessness that culminated in Zachary's death. On my behalf, a friend of mine asked the hospital foundation to remove B.W.'s memorial brick from the garden there. That I had to unearth a memorial to my firstborn, in a garden I worked for five years to help erect, because I can't stand the sight of the place..., well, it is truly outrageous.
A newborn hiccups at C.T.'s ninjutsu class and I am transported back to Zachary's first week of life. My hands are in his isolette, stroking the fine hairs on his shoulder, talking to him about his constant hiccuping and how we laughed at them when he was still inside of me. I am in the chair beside his isolette, pumping milk for him, hands now unable to get to him, giggling at his hiccups that won't quit. Even his hiccups are adorable. It is such a tempting memory. And, so crushing to allow myself to go to that place of beauty and expectation, to transpose or sync it with the devastating end, with the avoidable illness that violently destroyed him.
A cashier hands me my receipt and tells me to have a great day. It never fails to sting, even as I know she has no clue. It's part of her routine, something she says to every customer. If she only knew the absurdity of those words, the impossibility of her suggestion.