After I was finished writing Mia’s story Mr. J read it and asked me if I wanted to write more about grieving Mia. My response, “that’s a whole other can of worms.” Writing about the grief I am and have been experiencing since Mia was born feels overwhelming but necessary at the same time. I found writing about Mia’s birth the be very therapeutic and thought it would only make sense if I continued to write about her. If you thought it all ended when we left the hospital, you were so wrong. But where to begin?
Fortunately, before Mia, I have never really experienced the loss of someone really close to me. So I wasn’t familiar with grief, at least not to this magnitude. I found myself researching postpartum depression, anxiety, and grief to help me understand some of the things I was feeling. I felt like my brain was broken and I couldn’t think straight. Someone later described it as brain fog, but it was so much more than that. My memory and ability to concentrate became nonexistent. I didn’t feel like myself and was concerned how I was going to learn how to live with this new me. I didn’t know who this person was and I didn’t know how to function with her. It all sounds so dramatic but it was my reality and it was really scary. I wasn’t sure if I would always feel this way. My mind was consumed with thoughts of Mia, and it lasted for at least 4 months after Mia was born.
Soon after Mia was born, I had feelings of regret and guilt. I kept second guessing our choices. I couldn’t get over the fact that I chose to end Mia’s life. I thought about and still think about how much trust we put into our doctor’s opinion. What if he was wrong? Why didn’t we consult other doctors? Why didn’t I have Mia monitored while I was in labor? Should I have gotten an epidural? Having all these doubts was not like me. For those who know me, I am very decisive and almost never regret or question a decision I make. Like I said before, I didn’t feel like myself, and didn’t trust this new person that had invaded my thoughts.
I began seeing a counselor who was highly suggested by some ladies who also experienced the loss of a baby. No offense to the counselor, but I hated her. I felt no better after meeting with her a few times which seem to only set me back further. It really began to make me doubt myself. Somewhere around 3 months post Mia, I began to experience depression. I spent most of my time outside of work in bed and most of my weekends begging to be with Mia. Those weekends were the worst. My husband works weekends so that’s when I tend to have a lot of alone time. I learned that alone time wasn’t good for me, and that’s when I often felt my lowest. Simple tasks became overwhelming, and I knew I needed to do something.
I made an appointment with a counselor I had seen in the past for a completely unrelated issue. I thought she might not know anything about grief but at least she already knows me. She was just what I needed. She asked all the right questions, and surprisingly knew way more about infant loss than anyone else I have spoken to. Because of this, I had thought she might have experienced the loss of a baby but I never got around to asking. She was just so informed about the topic unlike anyone else I had spoken to.
We talked a lot about grief. She told me that just like any physical injury my brain had experienced trauma and it needed to heal. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell me how long it would take or if I would ever feel normal again. She told me to listen to my body and take care of myself. We also talked about ways to reduce my alone time which seem to increase my feelings of depression.
So I let myself sleep a little more, made a point to eat better, and asked for help on those long weekends. Slowly I began to feel more like myself. Will I ever feel 100%? I don’t really know. As I write this it has been 6 months since Mia was born. Some days are better than others, but there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t cried since she was born. At this point, I don’t believe there will ever be a day where bringing her up won’t make me emotional. I love to talk about her but it can also be painful. Holidays and anniversaries seem to be a trigger for me. This last Christmas was so difficult. I just had such a different picture in my mind what that Christmas was going to look like before all this happened. I also was seeing a lot of family members during Christmas that I hadn’t seen since she was born and that was difficult.
The last time I met with my counselor she asked me, “So what have you learned from this experience?” Mostly I learned that it takes time. More time then you expect it to, and there’s nothing you can do to shorten that time. It just takes time for your brain to heal. Second, grief is an illness. And just like any other illness, you need to take the time to rest and take care of yourself. Third, I needed to communicate my needs with others. If I wanted to talk about Mia I would let Mr. J know that I needed some of his undivided attention to talk. Lastly, I learned to forgive myself. People can be their own worst critics and some days I just needed to forgive myself for not getting dressed or doing that load of laundry.
Grieving Mia will be a life long experience I’m sure has only just begun.
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