When I was early in the grief process, I read an amazing post, over at Still Standing, by the equally amazing Angela Miller. It was titled “Why you Didn’t Fail as a Mother” and it changed how I grieved. I book marked it. I re-read it. When it came out as a book, I purchased it. It was a battle cry to my heart. It was reassurance I did not do this. I did not cause this. This is not my fault. I haven’t felt especially guilty, since the early days of grief. I worked through those feelings and when they tried to sneak back – I would go to that book and re read it. Especially, when she writes “you did not fail, not even a little” – there is still a part of me that is contemplating getting that as a tattoo.
Cognitively, I understand there is not a single thing I could have done to save Thomas’ life. Not one. My brain can tell you this. My brain can tell you this, in a variety of ways – it can give examples, my brain understands this idea – good job, brain! Until….until I see my husband with a baby. When I see my husband with a baby and his eyes glowing and the baby giggling as Rob expertly bounces and jiggles out giggles – my brain goes on strike. It stops working, it won’t function, it punches out on the time clock. Since nothing is going on upstairs, all the nerve endings around my heart and uterus are free to buzz. Simultaneously, my heart breaks a little bit more (I’m beginning to question how that is even possible…) and an iron fist closes around my heart and squeezes. At the same time, there is a dull ache in my uterus and I take in the scene and think “he should have this, he should have had these moments with our son”. Then I’m trapped in a tunnel that feels so far away and I hear a voice inside saying “you failed. Your body failed”.
And I’m grateful people let us have moments with their babies; I’m grateful they let me decide if I’m up to them and respect that the answer may be no. I will happily feed a bottle and feel wistful but still murmur and love that wee one. And other days, I am not capable of doing so, without breaking my soul – and I have people around me who respect this. Some of them aren’t even related to me; and the do me this kindness of understanding my limitations but giving me the option of not being okay. Because, some days I’m not okay – and it really is okay, to not be okay.
Really, why should we be okay? We have walked through hell and come out the other side, the things we have seen, felt and lived – there are not words or phrases for. So, I do not apologize for my brokenness. It is as much a part of me as my mantle of being Thomas’ Mother. I can’t have one without the other and I would never give up the precious time I had carrying my son. The pain, the grief, and the heartbreak are worth it.
HE is worth it.
If I couldn’t have had Thomas without losing him, I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat. And most of the time – 95% I have this sorted out. But there are other times, I get trapped in that tunnel and that hateful voice starts telling me lies. I truly think my brain checks out, goes away to save me – I need the disconnect and the wall to keep a grasp on my sanity. To focus on the pain in my heart instead of the screaming in my head.
It’s been 5 years. One of these days, I’m going to figure out how to block off that hateful tunnel or change the soundtrack to a kinder track. Until then, it’s okay to not be okay. You’ve earned that.