What Trauma Sometimes Looks Like

And then there was this moment
tonight
one year and a half later
when you realize

you never told your husband you were having his son

it was just a fleeting thought
a response to something on tv
and you looked over at him, puzzled, and
asked, “When did you know we were having a son?”
he replied, confused, starting his response with “we”
and you stop him and ask him, “Did you know before you got to the doctor’s office? The hospital? Did I tell you over the phone? Did I say “son”?”

And you realize he didn’t. You didn’t. He says, “We found out when he was born, when we held him.”

I am confused now. Trying to put the scattered, blurry pieces together – didn’t I know after the ultrasound, the one where there was no heartbeat? Didn’t the doctor say, “Do you want to know? [Insert my head nodding….?] You were having a son.” (Did she say “You were having” or “You have” or something else that gave more or less meaning to his short life?)

And I tell my husband, “I knew. I knew we were having a son. I knew four days before he was born.” I knew four days before you. I never told you.

Did I say “sorry”? I don’t know. He’s asleep now and I can’t sleep because I am thinking about how we were going to go to dinner to celebrate after finding out the sex together and then decorate with sailboats or flamingos…but I found out four days before him. I found out before calling him to come to the doctor’s office because, it turns out, I wasn’t having a routine appointment. I found out before trying to hide my tears when I walked through the waiting room, putting on a brave face for the still-expectant mothers and fathers.

I knew before the nurse lectured me on the time of day I take my thyroid medicine (since that must have been the reason I was checking into the hospital with a dead fetus) and the “yes, yes please” to drugs over and over again because I wanted to sleep and escape my newfound hell. I knew before I couldn’t talk because I was so weak from not being allowed to eat for days. I knew before starting the ten or so painful hours of labor to deliver my sweet, sleeping son.

I didn’t tell him he was having a son. I couldn’t. And I didn’t know until tonight.

And this is what trauma sometimes looks like. Something is triggered. Something is confusing or sad or scary and your fight or flight response is initiated and your blood pumps faster. And it doesn’t matter how long it’s been because it feels raw, and real. It’s always unexpected and there is fire running through your veins because you are so disappointed with, and unaccepting of, reality.

You never told your husband you were having a son. Not “you never told your husband in a cute way.” Not “you decided together you were going to be surprised.” You just never told him because your world collapsed and you were fighting to get through the thing you couldn’t get through in a hospital bed.

I didn’t tell him I was having his son. I couldn’t. My world collapsed. I was fighting to get through the thing I couldn’t get through.

I suppose that’s a good reason. But it doesn’t feel like one.

Advertisements

The F*!? Is Your Life

GJ_explosion_edited

So, this morning life made me simultaneously giggle and sigh deeply with exhaustion. That photo is my green juice.  That photo is probably a better metaphor for my life than the previous one where the juice is contained in an enormous goblet, resting on a festive napkin. If you’ve read a few of these Stealing Nectar blog posts, you know my “green juice” (a.ka. life) often explodes and leaves me to clean up the mess and salvage what healthy stuff I can from the remaining pieces.

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, has another lesser known book (but better in my opinion) titled, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.” Even though I had read Wild, I wasn’t inclined to pick up Tiny Beautiful Things until a close friend urged me to do so, saying she was in tears at the gym while listening to the audio version…and somehow I could tell she was trying to tell me something she needed to express to me.

Turns out, my friend was listening to this column included in the book from The Rumpus where Strayed was an anonymous advice columnist. This is a very moving, but longish read about miscarriage. I read this a few short months after losing Adam Gabriel, and I knew this was my friend’s way of empathizing with me. She was telling me that, on some level because of this column, she understood my pain and my great loss. She was using the column as a bridge, extending her support to my lonely, sad island of miscarriage.

As that column was so very important to my healing, so was this one, also included in Strayed’s book. Although it’s, likewise, a difficult and intense read, it has really stuck with me. Strayed so eloquently answers the vague and frustrating question, “WTF?” with the completely heartbreaking truth: “The F*!? is your life.” But, this can be pivotal. When I realized integration of the f*!? (yes, I really can’t write such a grotesque word out like an adult) – the miscarriages, the job loss, the rest of the negative list I am too tempted to type – was the only way through and passed…well, then, you get busy cleaning up the juice on your cabinets, on the floor, all over your robe…and get ready to do it all over again knowing that there are no guarantees in this life, but you’ll be okay anyway.

Green Juice

My life in metaphor: green juice. Desperate and clinging to hope, I make green juice. My kale and spinach based liquid breakfast represents what I am trying to do in all aspects my life. When infusing life – or breakfast – with only the cleanest, nutritiously-packed ingredients, the output is bound to be superior than whatever happen-chance would produce. Rigggght?!?!

GJ_cinema

Well, it’s something I am trying. The last few months have produced one failed pregnancy, three nasty colds, and a lot of immature emotions (like jealousy, anger, and entitlement) I have been trying to conquer. But…I finally have that summer feeling back where I have enough energy and stability to commit myself to positivity again. It may not be paddleboarding season yet, but I am working on filling my hours with only the best.

This includes a little work, lots of sleep, fresh foods, yoga, warm baths, book devouring, board game nights with my husband, and sweet cuddletime with Hollywood, my curly, Fraggle Rock of a pup. Long talks with friends, new volunteer activities, and exciting travel plans are on the agenda.

I feel all of this patience I have had to muster is preparing me for my next stage of life. We learned recently that we will be waiting until at least the summer to hear any news about an adopted child, so there is a continuous resetting of expectations. I expect, once the child is home with us, this theme will be repeated as we teach them English and try to help them reach new developmental milestones.

So, I choose to be thankful for the practice of patience. I choose to be thankful for this desert time which is really not that hard in so many ways. I choose to drink green juice and continue to hope for strength, change, and positive tomorrows.

Bullets to Blessings

Sometimes we don’t dodge the bullet. Sometimes the bullet cuts straight through our heart, and we are left to deal with the aftermath. Just like this bracelet (photographed below, from Proverbs 31 Ministries) exemplifies, bullets often become blessings. Bullets become new friendships and deeper compassion. Bullets teach us a new and better way to live.

Bullets to Blessings.

I may have mentioned it previously, but whether I have connected with blog readers, women from my past, or new friends I would never have met unless we shared our deepest losses, my bullets – the loss of my babies – have birthed deep, supportive friendships that have been life lines in the past few months and years.

I have been meaning to start using more photos in my blog posts, so I thought this was the perfect one to kick off the new year. My dear friend, Ally, a woman I met online through a miscarriage support group and only know virtually, shares an almost identical miscarriage history to me. We became pregnant with our fourth children days apart, but luckily she has grown the most beautiful round belly and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her baby girl this spring. Instead of shirking away as our fates untangled at this specific juncture, she stayed. She prays for me daily, often sending me emails of specific intentions she has for me. She shares with me the desires she has for my future family (adopted and/or biological) and urges me to remain hopeful in our All Loving Creator. And now, she sends me the most beautiful bracelet that she also wears in solitude with me.

What a gift.

What a blessing that has come from many bullets.

In moments like these, I remain thankful for the bullets because they are evolving my present and my future. These bullets are full of beauty, prayer, thanksgiving, and friendship. Dear Ally, thank you for being an angel in the dark night. I don’t think you know, but Adam Gabriel’s due date anniversary is tomorrow, and – in perfect, cosmic timing – these re-purposed bullets on my wrist will give me strength on a day that may make me weak. Thank you. Thank you to one of my angels on earth, giving life in remembrance to my angels in heaven.