One month ago today, our son Asher was born still. HOW HAS IT BEEN A MONTH?! How did I give birth to a stillborn son a month ago?! How is this our reality? In the past month, I have become a master of distraction. I’ve made myself busy with visits from/to friends and family to fill up my day and keep me moving. It’s gone by quickly, but also so slowly.
WHAT DOES MONTH ONE LOOK LIKE? (Full honesty here)
I’m perpetually exhausted. Sleep has become a struggle for me. At night I am so tired and ready for bed, yet, when I lay down to go bed, sleep becomes evasive. I have become a very restless sleeper. My body actually aches when I lay down. There have been several nights where I wake up and hear the word “stillborn” inside my head and then fall back to sleep. It happens multiple times a night. It’s like the word is literally haunting me. I’ve had dreams where I am pregnant again. The doctor tells me there is no heart beat. Then suddenly, the baby starts to move again and everything is fine. It is difficult to fall back to sleep after having dreams like that. I cry on a daily basis. Sometimes just a few tears and other times full blown hysterics. I cry the hardest when I am alone and unoccupied. I often feel guilty for crying in front of Hubby because he tends to comfort me and I know he is hurting too. It feels wrong for him to comfort me when I know his heart is broken and he is grieving the same loss. On the times I have found myself alone and without a distraction, that is when the quietness of the house gets to me. I shouldn’t be off of work mourning a child, I should be off taking care of one. That realization hits and the tears flow freely. So the combination of lack of sleep, crying, and constantly trying to stay busy have put me in a state of extended tiredness. I’ve basically felt this way from the moment they told me my son’s heart was no longer beating.
As fast as this past month has gone, the time also seems to drag. I can keep myself busy during the day but the hours between dinner and bed are the longest. After eating, I find myself ready for the day to be over. I wait until it is 9:00pm (a fairly appropriate hour for bed) so I can go upstairs and attempt to sleep. We have found ourselves watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (something we never did before) to keep us occupied and our minds busy for a little during those slow hours.
My appearance means nothing to me at this point. I go out in public without makeup and my hair done on a daily basis. Initially, I lived in sweatpants regardless of whether I was home or out in public, but I have progressed to putting on what I call “normal people clothes” or jeans when I’m going out now. I went to lunch with a few neighbors this past week and I told one of them “you will get me with my hair done but makeup is too much right now”. I have progressed to doing my hair (which means doing something other than just letting it air dry) when I have plans with people. However, makeup is just far too much effort for me at this point. With crying occurring on a daily basis, it just isn’t worth the effort. And to be honest, does my appearance really matter? My son died. Do I have to put effort into what I look like at this point? It seems trivial and unnecessary. I’m grieving the loss of my child, so let my outside reflect a portion of how I feel inside. If someone wants to judge me for not wearing makeup or for wearing sweatpants in public, let them. At least, I am going out in public. I’m still functioning; eating, getting out, running errands, etc, which I’m sure is more than what some other grieving mothers did after the loss of their child because everyone is different.
So to sum up, Month one looks like someone who is tired, been crying, and doesn’t care about their appearance.
EVERYDAY YOU SHOULD BE A LITTLE BETTER
I was asked the question the other day “how are you doing” by my mother. I told her “fine, how am I supposed to be doing?” and she responded with, “well, every day should be a little better”. Should it? I still feel the loss of Asher as much today as I did a month ago. My heart is still broken. Hubby and I always said we wanted to have two children. I realized this week that if we want to RAISE two children, not just HAVE two children, I will need to be pregnant and deliver a total of THREE times in my life (assuming subsequent pregnancies go as planned and I deliver two healthy children). I realized that if we gave Asher two siblings and we are lucky enough to keep those children, there will always be one that is missing. I would be a mother of three, which is something I never thought I would be. For the rest of our lives, a child will always be missing, a piece of us will always be gone. Asher will never get to meet any siblings we may be blessed to give him and they will never get to meet him. I don’t think it ever gets “better”. I think you just learn to live with it, the missing piece of a child lost. In the last month I have started to “move forward”, though. I have progressed to going out in public and putting on “normal people clothes”. I have been able to function with regular society and even laugh with friends and family. I am able to be the person I was before losing Asher when I am around others. But, that pain is still there, that empty bedroom is still there when I go home, and I still say goodnight to my son’s ashes every night. I am moving forward but the pain isn’t necessarily getting any “better” at this point, I may just be better able to mask it around others.
REMEMBERING ASHER TODAY
Because our son is not with us, we aren’t able to take the month to month photos of him and acknowledge his first year. We still wanted to mark the moment each month so we decided to light a candle in his memory on the 19th of each month. Today, we went up to his room and lit a candle. We stood there in his room and just spent time together thinking of him. We spent about an hour in his room as a family, just being together with him. Of course, I cried. I cried over the unfairness of this life and the fact that this is what our version of the “month-to-month” photo will be. I cried over the fact that he wasn’t even supposed to be here yet. He still had three more weeks before his due date and yet we are already marking a month since his passing. I cried because my son’s ashes were in his crib and not a one-month-old. I cried for everything.
I know some people reading this (aka my parents :)) will be worried about me after reading how honest this post is about my grieving. But there is nothing wrong with crying every day over the loss of your child. In fact, I worry about the moment when I do go a whole day without crying. I know I will feel guilty, like I’ve somehow forgotten Asher, but I know it will mean I’ve just learned to deal with the pain better. I am still getting up every day and going about my business. I’ve decided to give myself a project and am redoing our office, so the painting and decorating of that room have been a great distraction. I’m eating, I’m seeing people, I’m doing devotionals, I’m reading books, I’m signing up for projects and things to remember Asher, I’m doing things. But I’m still grieving the loss of my son, so don’t judge me for not wearing makeup or going out in sweatpants. Better yet, don’t judge others for doing the same thing. You don’t know someone’s story and what they are going through. I’m guilty of doing it myself, seeing someone looking like a hot mess and thinking” geez, they took pride in their appearance today”. But what I don’t know is that person could be in the same boat as me, grieving the loss of a loved one and what they look like is the last thing on their mind. They are just worried about staying busy and running that errand gave them something to take up their time and keep their mind occupied for a short while. It is definitely not going to be an easy road, it hasn’t been so far. But all I can try to do is remember my son and do what I can to honor his memory.