Saturday, August 20, 2016

life, for now

There's something to be said for mothers. We are resilient creatures, we are strong, and we are dirty liars. No matter how bad things are, how sick we feel, or how many things are going wrong; ask us how we are doing, how we feel- and we'll answer with a smile and the token answer, "I'm fine."
We lie. We lie through our teeth about how we're just fine as the walls are crumbling down around us.
It is simply impossible to know just how dark the days are, how lonely nights can be, in one mother's life. There's no counting the tears or catching one's self before a breakdown occurs.
The nicu broke me, newly a mother to 4, of believing I was any kind of strong. I wrote this small bit while our son was in the nicu. I sat in the dining area with two of our kids, watched my husband head over to the nicu and then I broke down. I sobbed heavily and decided I needed to put words to my tears.
-For 3 days I have sat here, multiple times a day and had mini breakdowns. We sit here as a family and try to be normal for the kids. We have meals that we had at home. We eat fruit snacks and just sit for brief moments. Then either Arnie or myself needs to leave. It's time to see Jacob. My heart aches that I am away from him at all. I feel sick with worry. Heavy with guilt. Regardless of which one of us goes, I break down. I wait until I see him take leave out the front door or I stand, in my own world, in the west elevators and begin to cry. I cry because I'm angry. I'm angry at myself for being selfish. I'm angry for ever complaining about being "big" and pregnant. I'm angry that I didn't get to enjoy those last two months of pregnancy. They were robbed from me and from Jacob out of nowhere. It wasn't preterm labor that robbed me- but a fluke of nature that deep down, I am 100% thankful was found but at the same time, I'm so angry and hurt. I'm so mad that I can't just sit and really cry because it hurts physically to cry that hard. I'm mad that my kids see me cry so often and quickly want to know what's wrong. My three year old, in all his wisdom, answered the question on his own yesterday as I sat in this dining hall with tears streaming down my face. He answered by saying, "I think she's sad because she wanted to hold Jacob and wasn't allowed today."- spot on, son. He hit the nail on the head. I'm also angry because I want to feel remotely normal but instead I am a jumbled ball of wired emotions, all fighting to escape me at the same time. Everything causes me to cry. I can't even explain myself to Arnie without breaking down. On another level, I am elated to have this new bundle of joy, who is doing as well as can be expected for his sweet, young age. My heart pounds as I round the corner to his room and see his cute, tiny body laying peacefully. My soul aches to pick him up and love him...but instead, I cautiously touch him, careful not to startle or wake him- just enough to feel him breathe and soak in his warmth. I steel myself for the nurse's news, praying to hear good news, progress, or holding steady.-

So I'm writing *now* to just tell mothers: cut it out. Don't lie. We are not always fine. We are tired. We are angry. We are sad. We are hungry. We are great.
Just don't lie.

So today I am not lying. I am not fine. I haven't been fine since the csection permission forms were laid on the hospital table. I have been broken, perpetually worried, feeling alone, constantly sad (yet elated at Jacob's health), and drowning in my own tears.
I was traumatized by the shock of the quickness of our premature birth. I felt, and still feel, like the ultimate failure. My body failed Jacob and me and continued it's systematic failures by refusing to produce milk for my precious boy- what he needed to help sustain his life, to help him thrive, I could not provide. I did EVERYTHING in my power to get my milk supply up and nothing worked. I pumped every 3 hours for 24 hours in 30 minute intervals around the clock for 3 weeks. Nothing changed. I spoke to lactation consultants, i called doctors. I made myself sick taking supplements but nothing worked. I was chained to a pump to produce less than 2 ounces in a 24 hour period. I was told to give up.
I was torn every day on how to spend my hours. I needed to see Jacob. Even if I couldn't hold him. My heart ached to be near him. I had to pump every two to three hours; we were encouraged to be a with Jacob for all his care times (every 3 hours), and we also had our 2 toddlers with us who needed their parents and needed normal. No matter what I did, I felt like a terrible parent. And every time I was asked for my milk for Jacob, my failures multiplied. I was exhausted, physically hurting from surgery, and emotionally drained...but when someone asked how i was, i would force a smile and say that terrible lie: I'm fine.

We're home now, thank God, but these feelings haven't left. I can't see a pregnant lady without fighting back tears. I can't show up at some place without realizing that the last time I was there, I was still pregnant and things were still normal. So, I cry. All the time. I am not fine.
Don't tell me things could be worse. My dark and terrible brain has already run the gamut of how much worse it could be. Where i am now is dark enough and I feel like I am hanging on the rim of a deep well. Am I fine? Hell no, I'm not fine... but I will be. I just need time. I am working on it. It starts by being honest with yourself and with others who care. I'm not fine yet, but I will be.