August 22, 2011

The Loss and The Losses

I thought it would just be the loss of Margot. And it was, for a while. Her death was all there was and everything else, the other losses that sat on the other side of the imbalanced teeter totter, seemed rather inconsequential compared to the reality that our second child died on the freeway as we rushed to the hospital.

And now, not so much. The other losses, some permanent and some temporary, have crept up, adding to what already seemed hard enough. 

Like the fact that we recently made an appointment with an infertility specialist. Even though we luckily got pregnant on our first try with Stella and Margot, it seems that massive blood loss and placenta abruption can lead to other problems, some of which may affect our ability to get pregnant in the near future. Every new monthly blood spill feels like another chip off the block of hope.

K has now been denied health insurance from everyone on our list, due to her kidney failure, a pre-existing condition that now marks her health history, like the scar that runs across her belly. Sometimes when the tears dry up, the wonderful gift of black humor comes rolling in, and we joke with one another. We got a dead baby and a pre-existing condition! Can’t say that very often.

The loss of our day to day is starting to weigh heavily. No more meet ups or mom groups or play dates with close friends. Too many babies cooing and crying, too many innocent mothers gushing over their newborns (as they should), too many mothers complaining about how hard it is to have two kids (as they should). Too many conversations that could lead to painful places. Like when a well meaning friend recently said, “When you have your second child, at least Stella will be older and having two kids will be easier. I guess in that sense, you’re lucky.”

Instead of the normal day to day, our vast community of friends and moms and neighbors has been replaced with a cave where few are allowed to enter. And we stick mostly to our cave, where it’s safe, where we can have the freedom to express our sorrow and our joy, without pressure to get better or cry less. It can be lonely in this new dwelling, so we fill it with books and our family upstairs and work and Stella, who bounces around excitedly as if this new normal is actually normal.

There is the constant reminder of what could have been, a haunting reality that comes and goes as easily as the wind. They say that when you lose a parent, you lose part of your past. When you lose a spouse, you lose part of your present. And when you lose a child, you lose part of your future. I feel this particular loss so deeply, the loss of all the ways our lives would be different if Margot had lived.

A dear friendship sits in hiatus. We mourn with them, separately and sometimes together, hoping this too shall pass.

And then there is our precious little L who preceded Margot by a week, who lives a few houses down, whose parents happen to be our best friends. We dreamed of sharing our little tikes together, of daily hang outs and nightly card games and watching Stella care for them and most of all, watching them grow up together, little hand holding little hand.

Some days, like today, when the grief feels heavier than ever, when it feels like this will never end, I have to remember that it’s not just Margot we have lost.


My New Normal said...

It's so true, when we lose children we lose our whole future. We will never quite fit in and we have to figure out ways to adapt and survive. I wish you luck in this journey.

Kate said...

Oh Josh (and K), I feel you. I hear you. I've struggled so much with this over the last week. Attending kids birthday parties, being surrounded by pregnant women and just 2 days ago receiving a call from my dear brother that he and his partner are expecting twins. All this life goes on around me/us and all I want is another baby, but that is gone, as is he. Struggle indeed. Wishing you peace and strength through these darker days.

Nika M. said...

I find it odd that you can have a horrible car accident or a DUI, but you can still get car insurance. Your rates might be a little higher, but you can get it. But you have one black eye on your medical history and it's all over. There's no way they're giving it to you, even though you're the person that needs it even more. It's a sad reality, how this country works.

Praying for yall....

Jeanette said...

It's true, we've lost so much.Sometimes I still can't believe any of us are having to do this, to live without our children, how do we do it?

Brooke said...

Yes, I've been grieving recently for all those other losses. I don't know if it's part of reaching that "acceptance stage" in grief (when I feel like entertaining such notions) but even when I can accept that Eliza is gone, I rail against all of the plans that died along with her. I was so in love with my daughter, and so enraptured with that version of my life. The ripple effects of her loss, the collateral damage, it can be really overwhelming.

I have an RE appt. too (that I'm not blogging about) so I wish you lots of luck. Here's hoping.

loribeth said...

This is the part of loss that so mamy people don't recognize or understand until they've been there themselves. I am sorry. :(

The personal aspects aside, I am appalled about the denial of health insurance. Like it's your wife's fault that her kidneys failed?? (Can you tell that I'm Canadian?)

JoyAndSorrow said...

The loss is truly immeasurable and overwhelming. And I know all about having a little same-aged trigger nearby; I have one in my own home sleeping upstairs in her crib at the moment. (hugs)

Rachel said...

Well said. There's this other wave to the grief that I didn't expect...these other losses. One of my closest friends was due the same week we were, and their little boy and Lyra were to play and we were to watch them grow together. Wishing you warmth and inviting arms willing to sit in the cave with you all.

Molly said...

As usual, i can relate to everything you've written here. My sister and i were pregnant together, due two and a half wks apart. So i know the loss you feel with your best friends. Ive lost part of my family. It won't ever be the same. And the playdates and moms groups--wow. That was a loss i never even thought about until i realized why i couldnt go. Ah, and we too were lucky on the first try with all of my pregnancies. Now, we've a whole lot of nothing in the way of hope. Unbelievable huh?

Hope's Mama said...

Our losses are so layered. It is true, we lose far more than our babies. It sometimes seems if the loss just goes on and on. Where the eff does it ever stop?
Truly, someone said that to you? I shouldn't be so surprised, I've heard it all in the last three years. And I know people think they're being helpful but shit. Really?
I know all about hiding in a cave and not wanting to come out. I know all about being too raw to face a world that seems to include nothing but fresh new babies. Your line about Stella thinking her new normal is normal really tugged at my weary heart strings.
I feel for you so much. Your story really has stayed with me since I first read it and I can't believe what you're now facing in the wake of it all.
You may have lost part of the more tangible community you were used to being a part of, but I can assure you this community (that I know you'd rather have no part of at all) will hold you up as you stumble along in the days, weeks and months ahead. We're here for you. And we get it.
Love to you and your girls, all three of them.

Missy said...

I wish I had something more enlightening to say than "I am so sorry." I don't, and I truly am. Thinking of you and yours and hoping that the universe quits playing jokes sooner rather than later~

brianna said...

I struggled (struggle) so much with identity issues after George died. In my mind I had imagined a certain future, a certain me, a certain Leif...and all of those things went up in smoke. Poof. Gone. I was left floundering to find myself and to redefine who I was/am.
This process was complicated by a myriad of "other losses" as you describe. Friendships changed and then dissipated into nothingness (partially my own fault but mostly theirs). My self esteem plummeted- my baby died, I must have done something wrong. I developed social anxiety, something I never had before. Our dream of moving to Portland delayed and delayed some more. So many things to grieve over in addition to the crushing grief of missing a child you were never given the opportunity to know.
Now, as Clio sleeps in her bed next to me and Leif lays on the other side of me, I am forced to face again losses that have been a result of The Loss. She will never know her big brother. Our family will never be completely whole no matter how full my heart is with love for his sibling(s).
All this to say, yes, so many more losses than just the death of a baby. And no, people don't generally understand or acknowledge those losses. We have to work through them on our own, or with our significant others, or with therapists, or with other people who understand loss. Its lonely sometimes. Which makes having friends like you and Kari all the more precious.

Mary Beth said...

I agree with Brianna--it is so very lonely sometimes. Even the closest of friends who nearly perfectly get it still don't actually get it. And when well meaning friends say stupid shit, I end up feeling worse about myself, rather than being mad at them for being dumb.

There are so many losses with this one big Loss. You're illustrated this so well, and I am so sorry you're learning these things. Sending love to you and the ladies.

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said...

I just read this and feel like you yesterday is me today.

I'm so sorry about the new complications. It's frustrating and unfair and maddening.

Loss of our future. Never heard it said quite that way but I believe it entirely.

Anonymous said...

If my aching heart and tears could help you heal, you would well on your way! I am so sorry and wish I had a magic wand...

Anonymous said...

We love and are with you Josh and Kari in this eff'd up ride. Your grief is ours to bear along with you. You can always feel safe to talk & cry around us. We can understand to a certain point of what you must be going thru and we know it isn't easy seeing us around. We to grieve for all the 'what ifs' (asher, stella, margot, p & z
and lyla) and now we can only stand back in a distance as the months pass us by and pray the pain dissipates as each seconds turns over.

In regards to the dumb ass who made that comment...I have no words.

If you want to talk with our RE or if you more insight of what steps/tests will be done...let me know.


crystal theresa said...

I also didn't realize how many other losses were wrapped up the Big Losses, the babies (and the should haves, would haves). And when I first started noticing, I didn't really care. I was too engulfed in the immediate grief.

We have been to the infertility specialist. And I've had vials and vials and vials of blood taken out of me. I've been told that my more recent loss was probably an implantation issue, that my hormone levels are not in balance, and that I love diminished ovarian reserve.

I'm sorry K has been denied health insurance. It's ridiculously upsetting.

And that comment. That dreadful comment. My mother-in-law tells us that we're "lucky" because we have angels watching over us. I'd rather be watching them. here. alive.

And the friendships that have ceased or have been altered.

And the baby who was born on Calvin's due date.

The similarities are both eerie and comforting. It's like we the babyloss community shares the same breathe. Even though our losses are all different, our grief experiences entirely unique, we still inhale heartache and exhale mourning.

I hope the doctor can give you answers. I hope the heaviness becomes less pronounced.

Kayla Rupp said...

Hello my friend. I am sorry for the way your hearts hurt. I am sorry for monthly bloodspills. I am sorry for mothers who complain about their hectic lives with multiple kids. I truly am.

We are all still here, reading and praying and checking up on you. If you need anything from an old friend who lives on the other side of the world, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

You have given so many permission to still grieve through this writing. Grief becomes a close companion for a long time. There is no manual that says you have to shake it loose to soon. But.....there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still. I pray that you find this true.....slowly, but certainly.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks for adding so much to the discussion everyone. I am moved to tears by your own losses, your own heartache. They whisper to me in my darkness, you are not alone.

And continued thanks to friends and the anon's for your love and support and everything else you give us so regularly. It's good to hear from you too.

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