Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Today I'm sad

Have you ever had a day where you felt tears just below the surface, but you were afraid to let them come because you feared they might not stop for a long, long time once they got started? That’s the sort of day I’m having today.

The tone was set by a phone call I got this morning about my dog. The call was from Animal Control, and they called to inform me that Gypsy, the dog I’ve had for 12 years and who escaped from the backyard Thursday night, had been found dead, hit by a car. This was not a complete surprise. She was constantly getting out of the yard no matter what lengths we went to to prevent it. So it was almost inevitable . . . I’ve been waiting for this phone call for years. But still, I’m sick over it.

Sue emailed me this morning to tell me that a mom of hers who was expecting twins gave birth yesterday. She included some photos with the email - beautiful photos of a beaming mom and two gorgeous baby girls. The photos seem infused with sunshine and happiness. And they make me feel like crying.

I’ve never really processed Finn’s birth. With my other births, I’ve painstakingly typed up a detailed account of each one and spent weeks, months even, thinking about the experience, reliving it in my mind, asking myself what about each one left me feeling fulfilled and empowered, and what about each one would I do differently next time. I did type up Finn’s birth story, but the actual experience is not something I’ve taken the time to analyze and come to terms with. Everything that happened after his birth seemed to overshadow the actual giving birth experience.

But seeing those pics this morning of the mom who had her twins yesterday suddenly has me feeling incredibly sad for myself. Was Finn’s birth a good experience? I can’t really say. I remember the day before he was born - Sunday it was . . . my water had broken in the middle of the night the night before and although I was exhausted from almost no sleep, Michael and I went to lunch and walked around the mall in an attempt to get labor into a more active pattern, and I see us there, almost as if watching a movie, and we were so excited. We anticipated nothing but a normal, uneventful birth which would give to us another normal, healthy baby. Active labor only lasted about 3 ½ hours, and it’s a blur in my memory. The birth went smoothly, there were no complications. And he was born, just the way we wanted him to be born, in a birth pool in our bedroom. And he seemed completely normal and healthy to me at the time. He was a lot smaller than I thought he’d be, but I wasn’t concerned because all of my babies except Lilah were small at birth, and he was 2 weeks early.

I learned much later that Michael was concerned about him before Sue even left that night. Something about his tummy not looking right to him. I didn’t notice anything. And I learned afterwards that Sue was concerned about him - not his immediate well-being, but that something might be wrong with him. I think she suspected Down syndrome right away - not because of the look of his face, which looked entirely normal, but because of other, subtle things, like the simian creases in his palms. Not wanting to put me into a panic, she didn’t voice her concerns. She went home, and instead of sleeping, did research.

It makes me sad in some strange way that she, and even Michael, suspected something about Finn before I ever did.

And then there were the events that unfolded after he was born - the panicked trip to the ER, the surgery on our tiny newborn baby, the awful time in the NICU.

There was never any baby honeymoon, no period of rest and recovery. Instead, giving birth to him had left me feeling sore and beat up and weak. And my memories of the first couple of weeks after he was born are of existing in a fog, in a state of physical and mental exhaustion, and fear and sorrow, going back and forth between home and the hospital, and just wanting more than anything to wake up from the awful dream I seemed to be stuck in.

And now here we are, 8 weeks later. We’ve come a long way, and there is so much to be thankful for.

And yet. And yet, I feel sad today. Sad that my memories of Finn’s birth aren’t happy ones, but instead gray and dismal. Sad that we’ve been through everything we’ve been through.

I’m thankful that so far, Finn seems to be only mildly affected by Down syndrome. But I hate it that he has Down syndrome.

I’m thankful that he’s eating well and growing now. But I hate it that it’s been such a struggle to get him breastfeeding well and gaining weight.

I’m thankful that there are services available to Finn that were not available to babies and children with DS 10 or 20 years ago, services that will enable him to live up to a greater potential. But I hate it that physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, evaluations by strangers, all of these things, are a part of our reality now.

I hate it that my dear friend who is due to give birth any minute, will give birth to a baby that will almost certainly weigh more at birth than Finn does at nearly 2 months old. I hate it that she and I won’t be able to compare notes on what our babies are doing; her baby will almost certainly do everything before Finn does, even though her baby isn’t even born yet. I hate how my envy is affecting my relationship with her, even though she’s been nothing but compassionate, forgiving, and understanding.

I hate it that I will never have another baby, that my birth swan song, so to speak, was this. I hate it that even though it was decided before Finn was ever born that he would be our last, that I can’t even entertain the possibility of just one more this time - not with my old eggs which were probably the cause of all this to begin with.

I hate it that I’m feeling so sorry for myself.


heather said...

I love reading your blog because I can so relate to all that you are feeling. I felt the exact same way about Morgan's birth. The other births had been a "high" for me and Morgan's left me with anxiety, fear and disappointment. I think that is one reason why I was so adamant that I wanted more children -- I didn't want to end feeling like I had been defeated. I wanted to be able to remember the pure joy that comes with child birth and those first few months as a newborn. So I can relate and wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone with the grieving and thoughts that you are experiencing. And even though this probably doesn't matter since you have to be the one that reaches complete acceptance. It does get soooo much better! that first year is a hard one. I felt like Morgan's 1st Birthday was the biggest milestone for all of us. It was a crazy year --so much had happened and it seemed like it took forever for Morgan to be one!

Laurie said...

I can relate to just about everything that you are saying. One thing in particular - Im not sure if you remember, but Dylan was transferred to Children's Hospital shortly after his birth as well and I've always had a bit of a tough time with that whole thing. I've also wondered just how many people knew (or suspected I guess) that he had Ds before Dave and I did.
IDK. This is all so hard sometimes, isnt it? Just the whole thing - the whole big picture.
Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I feel very similarly about what you are saying. You are not alone.

Carla said...

Since I am most likely that friend whom you mention whose next birth is imminent, I feel compelled to say to you again (and I'll say it as many times as you need to hear it):
*THIS is the stuff of which friendships are made.
*THESE are the times and experiences that deepen our relationship.
*EVERY feeling you have is real and valid.
*YOU are always on my mind and in my heart.

From Northern NH to Southern CA, I send you love and a billion cyber hugs. Now, let those tears out, girlfriend. Goodness knows I am right now!!!

Lisa B said...


Janet said...


Cleo said...

Hi Lisa,

I just found your blog.
Finnian is a perfect and beautiful baby !!!. Everything is OK :D. You should check out a book called Gifts, their website has a lot of helpful information, here it is: http://giftsds.segullah.org/

Many Blessings ~

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you as always, Lisa. I'm sorry for what you are going thru right now. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you - something that will make you feel better but I never seem to know exactly what to say - except that my thoughts are with you and your family and I'm here if you need me.

rickismom said...

All your feelings are SO normal, SO OK, SO par for the coarse. A good friend gave birth at the same time I did. Even today it is like a knife when I see her child. And I hate that I seem to begrudge her that happiness. (I don't. I just wish Ricki would be "normal".)
All I can say is that these blue days and moments get less and less... because as your child grows, you get caught up in what they ARE.
(Ricki is almost 14)

Cindy said...

The one great thing of all this is that you are able to let your feelings all out. Keep it up because in the end you will be the healthier because of it.

Hang in there girl. There is nothing wrong with feeling how you feel. I am not in your shoes, but could imagine having similar feeling and thoughts if I were.

SDS Artisan Metal said...

Thinking of you Lisa and wishing you peace.

Mary (pp bay75)

Nikki~Down syndrome Storyteller said...

I also want to say that the first year is very, very difficult, and believe it or not, it does get better. I was in a fog and really didn't "come to terms" until several weeks later. Now Madison is 2 1/2, and even though I know there will be hard times ahead, she is the icing on our family cake. Finn will be, too, and you will be OK.

Jodi said...

I think you have to allow yourself sad days to really appreciate the happier ones. False, forced happiness or acceptance just eats away at your soul.

I'm so sorry to hear about your dog's death. That's the last thing you need right now. Anyone who has loved a pet understands how devastating that loss is.