You would think it would be easier to write when my emotions are fresh and on the surface, but it's actually not. I find I end up either incredibly blocked or my writing is incoherent ramblings better suited for a private journal than anything helpful, reflective, or informative. So I abandoned my "write every day until Ryan's birthday" plan the past few days when I found myself once again struggling through some tough stuff.
The term "secondary losses" is a "grief word" referring to the other things lost after someone you love dies. I encountered the term online very soon after Ryan died, but I haven't truly experienced how deep a secondary loss can be until I've spent some time examining the concept recently.
I think I haven't focused too much on writing about these losses because I've never wanted to come across as whiney, or all "poor me, I lost my son AND all this other stuff too." But the reality is, when you lose someone as intimately close to you as Ryan was to me, life is going to change. You are going to change. And although with change come gains, it also brings loss. I was quick to recognize and cope with two secondary losses: I lost some close relationships. And I lost my former understanding of motherhood. I have been grappling with these losses for a long time now. I have made great strides in accepting those losses and reconciling them with myself and my new understandings of myself and my world.
My current pregnancy, however, has brought to light a new loss. One that was there in the beginning of my journey with grief, magnified at the beginning of my pregnancy, and recently reared its ugly head at this start of my third trimester.
I have lost faith and trust in my body.
I preface my story by saying that everything with baby brother is at this point, still good. Even as I write this, he wiggles away, never letting me forget he's in there (as if I could).
But on Tuesday, we found ourselves making an impromptu visit to Labour and Delivery at the hospital after I had two "strange vision episodes." (re: lots dancing lights making it hard to see). After the first episode, I called L&D as I was concerned it could be a blood pressure issue. The nurse on the phone, after running through a list of other symptoms for which I was negative, decided I should be okay but to come in if it happened again. Which it did. So we did. Blood was drawn, blood pressure taken, baby was monitored. And I learned nothing. There was no explanation for the episodes. Everything looked great. Though I was patted on the back from the OB on call who assured me it was great that I "trusted my gut" and came in to get checked out anyway. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.
Except I didn't trust my gut. In fact, my "gut" was telling me it was nothing. I just went because I was scared. Scared that if I didn't go I'd wake up the next day to relive my worst nightmare all over again. All because of some blinking lights. Actually, if I went to the hospital every time I was worried about something, they'd have to just admit me permanently.
And when I left the hospital, I didn't feel altogether better. I perhaps, felt a little worse. A little more unsure of myself than I had felt before. Here I was with a "real symptom" of something serious that turned out to be nothing. (Which is good!) But, how can I trust my body to alert me if something actually goes wrong when it falsely alerts me when everything is fine? I survived 40 whole weeks with Ryan and didn't realize until it was too late that he was gone. And gone without any solid explanation as to why. How can I trust and believe that won't happen again? Or that something else won't happen this time?
The next day, I was scheduled to attend a prenatal yoga workshop that incorporated mindfulness meditation. An aptly time workshop on learning how to "stay present." It could not have gone more horribly wrong for me. I sat in a studio with 10 other women who sat in a circle and shared affirmations like "I trust my body," and "There is nothing to fear." Meanwhile I'm thinking: "I sure hope this works out." Because I don't trust my body, and I know what there is to fear. I spent a lot of meditation time that evening crying silent tears and wishing I could find that trust and fearless place again.
Combine all of this with having to make a decision about returning to work in September and I'm surprised I haven't imploded somehow. It's hard to believe my body will "do what it's made to do." "What women have been doing for thousands of years." And it's hard to trust myself to make the right decisions for myself and baby. And whether it was my body, my decisions, or just pure shitty luck that caused the collapse of my hopes and dreams for Ryan, none of that is comforting when I'm walking down a path that at times looks quite similar to the one I was on a year ago.
The loss of my self-confidence and trust in my body has been the hardest loss to overcome, and I'm nowhere near reconciling this one. I'm not even quite sure how to do it. I don't know if it will fix itself should I find myself fortunate enough to have a breathing baby resting on my chest in 2 months' time.
Somehow, I don't think so.
This one feels pretty big.