Friday, July 24, 2009

What "to do" to do.

In the hours immediately after Isla's death, Tim and I attempted to rationalize our loss by discussing how we would be better prepared for the next baby. Driving to the hospital for my induction, we talked about all the things we would now have the time and money to complete around the house before bringing home a child - installing new carpet and tile in the basement, painting the exterior of the house, purchasing new furniture for the living room, etc.

Having just purchased our first home in April, during my pregnancy I was very stressed about completing my list of home improvements before Isla's arrival . As the weeks passed and my due date approached, I became more and more anxious that we would not have the time nor financial resources to complete my "to do" list before our baby arrived. Aside from preparing the nursery, most of the things I wanted to complete (like changing the colour of the siding on the exterior of the house) really did not need to be done before bringing home baby, but like most naive first time mothers, I wanted the house "perfect" for her arrival.

In recent days, Tim and I have busied ourselves making home improvements. We have contacted painters for estimates, washed the windows inside and out, tended to the garden, etc. While we know Isla won't be coming home, it makes us feel better to do these things. I'm not sure exactly how Tim feels, but in some strange way I feel as though I am still doing these things for her. Perhaps with all the pregnancy hormones still circulating through my body, I'm nesting.

Regardless of why, by keeping busy around the house I had several okay days in a row. I wouldn't say they were "good" days, but I could go for six or eight hours at a time without crying. I could think of my beautiful baby bean without being over come with despair. I could eat without feeling nauseous. And, I wasn't just "okay" during the day while keeping physically busy, in the evenings, while relaxing, I was able to watch movies and concentrate on the plot.

At times I felt a bit guilty for not grieving enough. But I didn't beat myself up too much for how I was feeling, because I knew it was still in there. Like a storm on the horizon, I could feel my grief slowly creeping up on me. I would get butterflies in my belly and cry for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. But, as quickly as the butterflies and tears came, they went. It was as though for those few days I could only handle grieving for a few minutes at a time.

I acknowledged my feelings to Tim several times. I would cry for a few moments in bed at night and he would hold me, and then I would tell him that was all the grieving I could handle at that moment and I would turn on the TV.

But then, last night, the storm hit, and it was a big one.

My mom came into the city yesterday, and the three of us went to the mall to shop for new furniture for the living room. It was the first time Tim and I had been in the mall since losing Isla. There were reminders of my pregnancy and Isla everywhere. I remembered that the last time I was in Crate and Barrel I was five months pregnant, and really starting to show. I remembered shopping for glasses, and proudly rubbing my belly and telling Tim there was no point in spending $10 each for everyday glasses, when soon there would be a child in the house and surely they would get broken. I remembered shopping in Pottery Barn Kids for nursery decor with my friend Andrea who is expecting her third baby four days after Isla's due date. Even the mall bathroom brought back memories. The last time I peed there, Tim was in the car waiting for me, but being pregnant I just couldn't hold it until I got home.

On top of the flood of memories, the mall was crawling with pregnant women. During my pregnancy I discovered that there is this look of acknowledgement that pregnant women give to one another. Yesterday I felt as though I was still looking at other pregnant women that way, but instead of looking back at me the same way, they gave me the look they give to anyone else they notice staring at their bellies - the, "yes, I'm pregnant, isn't that great" look.

After dinner, on our way home, Tim, my mother and I stopped at the cemetery to visit Isla. We weren't planning on stopping, so we didn't bring her any flowers. Fortunately the flowers Tim and I left on Sunday were still in bloom. Normally when I leave the cemetery I feel a sense of peace and closure, but yesterday leaving there I just felt more empty. Perhaps it is because we didn't bring her anything.

Once I got home I watched a series of YouTube videos made in memory of other lost babies. The videos made me cry a few tears. I made a point of showing Tim how beautiful each baby was.

Then, it was time for bed. We shut of the TV and the computer and without any advance warning, the storm hit. I started to cry and I could not stop. I felt as though I was drowning in despair. The tears, the kind from way down inside, just kept spilling over. Tim was right beside me, trying to comfort me, but I felt so alone. My thoughts were scattered, but each one brought more and more pain. I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to be like before where I could turn it off by simply turning on the TV, but I couldn't stop it.

And then, just as quickly as it hit me, the storm engulfed Tim too. We laid in bed for what felt like forever, sobbing, and trying to comfort one another. Nothing we said made either of us feel any better, so we just held hands. Eventually we fell asleep.

When I opened my eyes this morning, I was hoping I would feel better. That I could get up, get dressed, and tackle some more improvements around the house. But, today is not an okay day, its one of the bad days. It's almost 3pm and I'm still in my pajamas. My eyes are still swollen from crying last night (the lid on the right one is so puffy I can feel it when my eye is open), and I can't bring myself to eat.

The synchronicity of grief Tim and I shared last night has passed. As soon as he got up today he walked the dogs, went to the grocery store to buy coffee filters (and beautiful flowers for me - my favourite hydrangeas and some pink lilies to remind us of Isla), and made himself something to eat. I know he is still hurting, but we're in different places today.

Sigh. He is outside installing new exterior light fixtures. I know he wants my help. Today's to do list: 1) eat breakfast 2) put on something other than pajamas 3) wash the tear stains from my cheeks 4) go be "there" for my husband.

Here I go...


  1. i miss the response from other pregnant women. i find myself staring at them now with sadness and jealousy, and i want to be back in That club. not This one. this club is no fun.
    ohhh, if you think the mall sucks, please don't go to the zoo or an amusement park or the boardwalk. i thought i could handle it, but it killed me. summer time= babies, babies everywhere.