In my reintroduction post this month, I explained why writing/blogging didn’t fit into my life very much last year. Adjusting to being a mom of a toddler, I had no idea that motherhood would have growth spurts, emotionally, just as a child has them, physically. However, I didn’t elaborate on the 4-5 month battle this past fall with depression. I specifically said that I didn’t want to write about “depression” or the “downs” I dealt with anymore because I had already talked about it so much. Then, I thought – these are the moments that might help someone else.
I’ll say this: It (re)occurred to me that it’s necessary to have some sort of “downs” in the path of grief. To me, the term “grief” means growth from a tragedy; when I think of grief as a state of being, that’s how I feel. If you’re grieving, you’re living – and that is the truth. Perhaps not ‘happily’ living – all the time, but living nonetheless. We have to live after we encounter tragedy, that’s human nature. Your grief is how you decide to do that.
August was coming quickly and I had some decisions to make. I was very excited to accept a new position as a preschool teacher for the fall – a job that would be a perfect fit with Liam’s new schedule as a preschooler himself. Having taught children either academically or in gymnastics for around ten years, it was a position that I felt I would fit seamlessly into. I also added a couple of hours back into my schedule for toddler gymnastics instruction, because I missed it so much. I was thrilled to be back doing what I loved, all while still owning the role of “Mommy”. My life’s pieces had come back together.
So, why was the dark cloud back over me?
I like to know things. I like to research, read, and learn. This is probably why I’ve had an especially hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of depression. There’s no mechanics behind how it works, no textbook on the A-Z’s of depression. I’m positive someone out there has indeed written a “Dummies Guide to Being Depressed”, or something similar. There are people out there who think they have all the answers for people living with depression; I find that idea quite an interesting paradox. Depression is so very different for everyone who lives with it; and yet, there are obviously major overtones that apply to nearly all cases.
It’s frustrating, as I’ve said about 852,497 times already, to have so many reasons to be happy in your life and to still be depressed. Or rather, to suffer from symptoms of depression itself. “I am not sad. I am not upset. I do not feel like I would rather die than live. Therefore, I am not depressed.” This is what – I – still was telling myself.
What I have to constantly remind myself is that over the years, depression waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows, comes and goes: you get the point. I forget in the first moments of feeling the dark cloud over me again that it won’t last forever, and that it’s going to be okay.
August/September is the beginning of the rollercoaster. The anniversaries begin with when I got pregnant and roll into the anniversary of us telling our families and friends and “announcing” our pregnancy, our first holidays being pregnant, and then finally – the big one. The Angelversary, in December. It’s a hard hit every month for those 4 months. However, last year I had a handle on it all. My son turned two, I was a happy stay-at-home mommy, and life was so, so good. The problem lied in the fact that I had become comfortable. I was used to the idea of having a son, finally, here on Earth – and – one in heaven. It was my normal. Then, out of nowhere, the terrible twos hit hard.
Not Liam’s terrible twos (although, yes, it is in fact a thing). It was the “your child is over two years old, when is the next one coming?” phase. I was beginning to become obsessed with the thought, myself. Our friends were starting on their second (or third) child, and once again we felt left behind.
When would number two come? Would we adopt? Would we use another gest. carrier? When will we start? How do we start? How much is it going to cost us this time? Will our last embryo take?
The questions were already lingering in my mind and as I said earlier, I like to know/plan/research. Jake and I talked about it weekly, sometimes daily, in the beginning to weigh our options and configure a plan for when we would want to begin whichever process we decided on. I became fixed on the idea, and then the worries began. Our pregnancy with Liam (via gestational carrier) had gone fairly well, with the exception of losing his twin around ten weeks gestation. We knew when we did IVF and implanted embryos in our carrier that the possibility of a loss was high. “Implant two and expect one” was our game plan, although that all went down the drain when we found out we were expecting twins (and continued to be for those ten weeks). We lost his twin and it re-grounded us. Nothing is guaranteed. What a smothering, sobering feeling.
I will never carry a child. Four years later, the reality of it still astounds me. I still grieve it. Suddenly, that dark cloud made sense. I had never taken time to grieve my fertility. I felt like I had, though, because it was such a hot topic and we were getting so much media attention surrounding our story. I was young, healthy and pregnant, and then almost died. I should have died, according to emergency room doctors, but I didn’t. You’re thrown into a new “normal” and you feel like you have to sink or swim. I grieved RW, our baby boy. I wanted to rip my own heart out some nights because the pain was so intense.
I never grieved for my fertility.
I didn’t cry for days or weeks on end about missing my uterus like I did for RW. How does one even do such a thing? How do you let go of an idea that’s ingrained in our human genetic makeup? Sure, seeing pregnant women out in stores sent me into a panic attack. It hurt, but it was like ripping off a bandaid. Then, putting another bandaid on top. I got angry; felt pain, felt cheated, and hated everyone who could carry a baby in that moment. Then I swallowed those feelings and put the bandaid back on top. I carried on with life. That was the easiest thing to do, and I know better than that.
So, I just gave in and let it cover me. I had to function as an adult and a mommy, so I did. Every day I woke up tired and every night went to sleep restless. Even my medication couldn’t dilute the symptoms some days. In this way it was classic ‘depression’ as a “Dummies Guide to Depression” would describe. What I didn’t know – and haven’t ever read – was that lack of sleep causes symptoms of depression to worsen, because it’s a cycle. I suffered through months before I finally felt like talking to someone about it. My doctor told me that I looked tired and worn down – I burst into tears. I fell apart. I was so mad that I could still feel the way I did. I felt ridiculous and like I was making myself upset because I was fixated on another baby, which constantly reminded me of my lacking the ability to do it myself. I felt embarrassed by it all, and ungrateful for the wonderful life I already have.
It’s okay. It’s normal (whatever that is) to feel the dark cloud coming back sometimes. Depression is just that. It comes, rains down on you for a period of time, and then leaves. Sometimes the clouds are closer together, and sometimes farther apart. No one should feel ashamed or embarassed in grief and depression. That’s my hope in writing this post -that someone who’s three, four, or ten years past a loss will realize that it’s still okay. We have to know there’s a rainbow after the storm because that’s what makes it possible to endure. Find something, someone, a thought or idea to be your light – your hope – that you can cling to until after the storm passes.
It’s not over for us.
One perfect, miraculous, amazing rainbow baby isn’t all that God has in store for us and I’m certain of that. Having only one child is not what we have ever planned for our family and that won’t change just because we have to go to great lengths for another. I won’t let myself feel greedy or selfish in wanting another child just the same way anyone else would want more children. We will have another baby, one way or another, and that’s the light I can see through the clouds.