I sat down to write this post, and realized that everything I thought I wanted to say wasn’t entirely true today. It might be true tomorrow, it might be true later this afternoon, but right now, none of the things I planned to write are things I’m feeling.
Maybe that’s the solid truth about triggers. The one constant thing about triggers is that they rarely are the same from day to day. There are certain things that will always be a reminder of the hell we’ve been through, but they don’t always trigger an emotional breakdown. Maybe one day you can drive past the hospital where you delivered and just remember the day with tenderness, but other days, you have to take a different route because you know you’d just end up in tears. Some days you can look at pictures of your baby without crying, other days you can’t even look in the mirror without seeing the features you share.
This inconsistency of triggers was difficult for me after we lost Carter. I was so used to being in control of my emotions that the utter lack of control in the months following frustrated me. I didn’t (and still don’t) mind it so much when I’m just at home, but the unexpected breakdowns are hard. I want to just lean into them and really feel, but I also don’t want people wondering what’s wrong with the crazy person in the Christmas aisle. Don’t know why, but the Christmas stuff gets me every time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the emotional breakdowns. In fact, I think they are really good for grieving, coping, and recovering. But sometimes I wish I could anticipate them a little better so that I could prepare a little more and maybe duck out before the tears come.
Today I can tell you that holding our neighbor’s brand new baby would be hard. I can say that thinking about my two nephews that will be making their debut in the next six weeks is going to suck. Today, I could probably sit in the nursery, but I can’t open the closet or pull clothes out of the dresser. I can write this post without crying, but thinking about my son’s birthday next month is too much. These are all hard things for today. And tomorrow, there will be new hard things. Different hard things. Or maybe I’ll get lucky, and there won’t be any hard things that trigger me. What is important is that we learn to accept the triggers, and embrace them as much as we can. Because even though the triggers suck and are a reminder of what we don’t have, they are also a solid reminder of what we do have: our babies, our titles as parents, and a lifetime supply of love.