Friday, April 10, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me

    The human mind automatically searches for a reason why in every situation, good or bad. Thankfully, I have had a peace from the start that the 'why' in the shortness of Asher's life was not mine to answer. I am not the Creator of life, nor am I the one to take it. I firmly believe with every fiber of my being that God has numbered the days of our lives, and there are reasons beyond our understanding for everything. Some times human action and free will interferes with His plan, but ultimately my faith answers that question for me, and I have had peace.
   Because of this faith, we initially had decided against having testing done on Asher. Then I developed a tumor that grew out of control in seven day's time, and because of the risk of rare things like choriocarcinoma affecting both mother and baby, the surgeon asked for our permission to order the testing. We agreed. Not because it made a difference to us, but because it could make a difference in my necessary treatment in the future.
   So the testing was done, and we all but forgot about it. It was something we were subconsciously waiting for, but not obsessing over. Then two weeks ago I realized it'd been eight weeks since Asher's birth and we should've had the results by now, so I called. The surgeon was on vacation. At that point I had a full break-down. Hysterics. My mind was screaming, 'What if he was fine? What if my body killed him?' I repeated to the few friends I confided in about the situation that I was not sure what I would do if that was the case. I'm a mother. It's just what I do. My children are my pride and joy, their births were these incredible life-changing experiences- even Asher's has changed me forever. What if, despite my best efforts and all that pride, joy, pain, accomplishment, passion, and effort, my body had gone rogue and decided to kill the life growing in me? I could not handle that thought. I had a full break-down, was stricken with near constant panic attacks and fits of tears for days. I became very angry with my body, that it couldn't keep my baby alive, it couldn't give birth to him so he had to be surgically removed, instead of growing a baby it grew a tumor, and now it couldn't even heal itself, physically and emotionally. I was so angry. At my husband's encouragement, I made an appointment with my midwife.
   Wednesday, the day of my appointment, I woke up feeling hopeful, that the day would bring some answers, relief, a game plan. Something. Some kind of hope. As the clock ticked toward my appointment time, though, hope turned to anxiety and nausea. As I stepped off the elevators on the fifth floor I was punched in the nose with the smells that had come to haunt me: Hospital cleaning solution and air freshener. I sat in the office and texted to a friend, "I hate this waiting room. It's really lovely, but I hate this room." I just wanted to see my midwife.
Bill for Neonatal pathology: Insult to injury at its worst
   Unfortunately I forgot about the interrogation you get from the nurse before the midwife comes in. In NY, my midwife had her own practice in her own building, so you went in, told her receptionist you were there, sat in a beautifully decorated, home-like waiting room, and when she was ready for you the midwife herself came out to the waiting room to get you. Not so here, where my midwife shares an office in a hospital with many. The nurse was nice enough, but I did not want to be spilling my guts to her. I wanted Melanie.
   Finally the gentle knock at the door came, and in she came, arms instantly open, and she hugged me tight, a sweetly long, hardly awkward hug, then pulled back and said, "Are you going to cry? It's okay if you do." So I sat down and cried. And cried and cried and cried. For 90 minutes I cried my mental, emotional, and physical woes to her. Several times she joined me with tears of her own. The appointment was everything I needed. It allowed me to spill my guts, to address my body's difficulties it's having, and to get help. Perhaps the most, "AHA!"-esque moment the whole hour-and-a-half was when I sobbed to her my intense anger at my body that not only could it not keep my baby alive, but that it couldn't give birth which made it necessary for me to be strapped to a table, surrounded by strangers, and have my baby surgically removed into a biohazard bag so that I was never able to hold him. For a whole week my husband and I tucked our children into bed and prayed that I would give birth that night so we could have the peaceful experience and closure we so desperately wanted, but it never came. Tears spilled down her cheeks and she said, "It breaks my heart to hear you say that your body couldn't give birth. It could! Your body was working so perfectly that it was POSITIVE that it was growing a baby. It was refusing to give birth because it knew it wasn't time. It knew it was supposed to be growing a baby and its baby was far too small to be safely born. Your body was working perfectly!" Every bit of intense anger and borderline hatred I had for my body's failings melted away with her passionate, comforting words. That made sense to me. Far more sense than the confused mess I'd been inside, hating my body for failing me in so many ways.
   Then came the dreaded moment when she informed me that the pathology on the baby's body was back, and it was there on her screen. She asked if I wanted to know the results. I don't know. Maybe. Yes. Yes, I needed to know. She studied the screen for a moment then said, "I can tell you from looking at all this information that he was 100% perfectly whole and healthy." So if my baby was healthy, then why did he die? If it wasn't my baby then it was me. My body didn't let him grow. My body killed him. She promised that wasn't the case, but that was all my head could think.
   If it's not you, it's me. Something about us didn't work, and the science says you're alright. So it's me. So now I wrestle with this. With the reality that my baby was healthy. With the reality that it was me. So I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm praying to God for strength. I'm letting myself feel. I'm getting help for the PTSS my midwife believes my brain has developed to try and cope with all of this. And I'm taking it one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

Do you think you can make it through the next ten seconds?

I think so.

Good.

Is it over?
Almost. And then you can start on the next ten seconds. You're going to be okay.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could hug you in person all over again. I am so sorry.

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