I’m still wearing maternity jeans on occasion, even though they keep falling down. My belly is still squishy. My squishy belly is still most comfortable in elastic, though I try to wear pants that don’t fall down most days at work.
Dot was a very good sport about meeting my extended family this past weekend, but it bothers me when people call her a good baby. I kept wanting to call people on this, but they meant it as a compliment (as if I have much control over it, but still) and I didn’t want to be all prickly when people were so glad to be happy for me. Dot is in many ways an easy baby, and we feel pretty lucky that so far she is mostly good-natured unless she’s uncomfortable or tired, but we wouldn’t think of her as a bad baby if she were louder, cried more, or refused to let strangers hold her. Easy doesn’t equal good, but if it did, then what was Teddy? A very, very bad baby (huge medical needs, long-lasting emotional hurt for the parents) or a very, very good baby (no keeping us up with colic or even normal newborn hunger spells)?
My grandma is in the end stages of lung disease, and my mother talked to me about her worries about Grandma dying from lung failure – a long, slow, suffocation that must feel a lot like drowning. All I could think about was Teddy, and if he felt like he was drowning when he died in my arms. I hope not; he was very medicated and didn’t even open his eyes, but I wish lungs weren’t such fragile, necessary things. I wish I could have focused more about caring for Mom and Grandma and not wonder how Mom could have no idea of the memories she was calling up when she talked to me.
N is still self-medicating and I can no longer act as though it doesn’t bother me. His sister talked to me about it when she was visiting and suddenly I can’t turn a blind eye any more or hang onto my “hey, whatever you need to do to get through this” attitude. I know it’s tied up with grief and with the anxiety he struggled with long before Teddy was born, and I also know that he loves Dot and me with crazy, big love, the kind of love I have for him. I also know that now there’s a living child in the picture I can’t just think of him and me. Hence the tremendous worry. And since there is very little good counseling in our corner of the world, and especially after N’s encounter with Amazingly Bad Therapist, I worry that this option for help may not be available to us. I don’t know what to do, but I’m painfully aware that doing nothing is also a choice, a choice that sometimes looks like giving up.
I think I’m still more damaged than I let on. It shows up in little ways – I get paralyzed by the thought of making simple phone calls that are part of my job, I hide from things I should confront, I’m afraid to ask for help even when I need it, I have trouble, many days, focusing. I drop more balls than I used to. I intensely dislike this about myself. I crave the escape of novels and sleep more than I usually do. It’s partly just adjusting to parenting a living baby and partly the season and the memories rushing back, but it’s been almost two years. I thought I’d be more myself by now – more of the self who was outgoing and energetic and responsible and willing to take on new things. I don’t want to be tired and defeatist and sloppy. I don’t want Dot to see me as this damaged self. Also, the poor kid will never have a play date if I can’t manage to at least attempt being a little less introverted, a little more put-together.
I’ve been missing Teddy so much the past couple of weeks. It’s like the summer has pulled the scab off of my grief and what used to be a mild though constant itch is open and oozing again. I still look for him sometimes, half-expecting to find him waiting for me when I come home, or to see him peeking out at me from behind a tree, or to catch a glimpse of him around the next corner. I wonder sometimes, where does all of this love I have for him go? Does it reach him? Is there a him for it to reach? I want to say, yes, but when I am most honest with myself I have to admit that I don’t know. There’s a howling void in the middle of that thought.
My feet are dry and yucky and rasp against the sheets at night. Wrong as it is, right now I want a pedicure more than I want world peace. This is just a phase and will pass, right?