I felt the love and concern in response to the launch of my blog yesterday. Not only from friends and family, but from strangers and new friends that I have made through this experience. This experience has shown me that people can be so generous and kind. I am going to dedicate an entire post to that topic… but not today.
I woke up this morning to a bright and beautiful day. My disposition wasn’t quite so perky after a bad night of sleep, but the birds were awfully cheerful after multiple dreary, rainy days. I realized that yesterday was not as bad as I thought it would be, and that I feel almost “normal.” I am doing ok. And then I wonder how??
I remember the first time that I realized I was on the road to being happy again. I was driving home from visiting “Tiny” as we’ll refer to the surviving twin, in the NICU. She had been there about 10 weeks at the time. We had made the decision that she would have surgery to insert a feeding tube (“G” tube) into her abdomen. The only unresolved issue keeping her in the hospital was the fact that she just didn’t have the suck-swallow-breathe coordination or the stamina to drink much from a bottle. So, under the consult of the nurses, doctors, and pediatric surgeon, we decided it was time to go forward with this surgery so that Tiny could come home. The surgery would be the following Monday, and the doctors told me that she would likely be able to come home about a week later. I could FINALLY see the light at the end of the tunnel. After weeks upon weeks of being at the hospital (I had been hospitalized for five weeks before the babies were born) I knew that we were finally going to bring our baby home and begin the next chapter of our journey. It was a gorgeous, very warm day for February, and as I drove home I thought to myself, “I feel happy!” And then part of me felt sad.
Elsabeth Kubler-Ross first proposed the five stages of normal grief in her 1969 book “On Death nd Dying.” The five stages of Grief according to her are:
1. Denial and Isolation
I think I had gone through all five stages while I was lying on bedrest in the hospital for 32 days before the twins were even born! I have not read her book, so I don’t know what she has to say about each of these stages, but what I have found through my own experience is that they don’t necessarily happen in that order, you can be in more than one stage at a time, and you can go through the cycle more than once.
And there is the additional stage that I am struggling with. The GUILT.
SO MUCH GUILT!
Guilt that I spent so much time worrying about the logistics of what life would be like with twins that it dulled the excitement of carrying two beautiful babies. Guilt that once we found out I was not aggressive enough with researching my options and pursuing other avenues. Guilt that I was away from my other two children so long. Guilt that I feel like I can’t hold Tiny and love her the way that I should because I’m always missing her sister. And it goes on…
So I am still stuck in this Guilt stage, which is probably also and indication that I haven’t quite made it to “Acceptance.” I am working on it. But that is one of the greatest challenges for me to handling grief. The “moving on” part. The decision to continue to live my life happily. I had a long discussion about this a few weeks ago with my very close friend, who recently lost someone very close to her as well. When we start to have the feelings that life is “normal” again, or if we get to the point where we feel some relief from the extreme heaviness of the situation, when we have happy moments, a large part of us feels guilty that we are not absolutely lost in our own grief. And that is the point where you have to decide if this incident is going to rob you of the rest of your life. Neither of us want that.
So we (those who choose not to be robbed by this experience) remember our loves, we talk about them and the experience of our loss, we share our feelings, and we include those around us rather than sinking into despair.
Day by day I feel the love, support, prayers, and acts of kindness from my AMAZING support system. I have one aunt who lost her first born hours after he was born, and she has been amazing. I was blessed to become good friends with the family we were placed next to at the NICU, and we supported each other until our girls came home from the NICU one week apart from each other. We are still supporting each other. I have an incredible support system of family and friends, who have done so much for us. I have new friends that “get it” due to their own experiences that are helping me wade through this sea of guilt…
So I am doing ok. But it’s not something for which I can claim sole credit. It’s because of the people in my life. A huge factor is the support from my husband and my silly children. It’s also largely due to a rock solid faith. And I would be remiss in not giving credit to the anti-depressant, which takes the edge off and keeps me sane!
If you are experiencing any of these same issues, feel free to comment or discuss with me. There is such benefit in being listened to!