The Strength In Letting Go – How My Experience With Loss has Transformed Into An Unparalleled Win

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It’s been almost a decade.

My son will be turning 9 in two weeks.

My venture into motherhood started with a perfect uneventful pregnancy, and ended with a traumatic delivery that left physical and emotional scars. To say that I had been given sub par patient care is a gross understatement. Had I delivered in a veterinary hospital I would’ve been better off.

I didn’t get to see him for 6 hours.

S-I-X

I was left alone, terrified and in unimaginable pain in an empty back room that was used for recovery. There were a half dozen empty stretchers lined up next to mine. I was bawling, doped up from the pain meds that failed to bring relief , and I was desperately trying to get up to see my baby. I vaguely remember a nurse come in and push me back down, telling me to ‘relax’.

“Relax”

RELAX?!?!

Who the fuck can relax when no one will give you your baby??

Where is he?

Is he okay?

Why the f*#k won’t anyone talk to me?

my tiny human 03/02/06

my tiny human 03/02/06

There’s a laundry list of faux pas spanning the nightmare that was my labor, delivery and after care. I’ll spare you the details and give you the cliff notes. It was a hard lesson on how human beings should never be treated. Ever.

It taught me that I never wanted to be treated like that ever again. And I wasn’t.

The c section that brought him into the world taught me that, I can in fact survive the worst experience of my life. It also set the bar for common decency. This was what fueled my determination to have a VBAC. The hospital’s policy against allowing VBAC’s wasn’t my problem. There was zero medical concern for my daughter and I, I wasn’t going to allow a hospital’s aversion to inconvenience dictate her birth experience.

My daughter’s birth three years later was a successful VBAC. I had to travel 35 minutes from my home, but I was going to labor under my terms. And I did. It was against the local hospital policy at the time, but I knew I was healthy and strong enough. The ugliness of the post partum depression that I had experienced with my son switched identities the second time around. The heavy unrelenting depression that visited me the first time morphed into paranoia and seperation anxiety. The voice that use to whisper ” you’re a bad mother … why couldn’t you deliver naturally … of course you can’t breastfeed… why can’t you just love your perfectly healthy baby and stop crying !!!”.

That voice was now telling me – making me feel – that I had to be on alert at all times. I had to have my babies with in arms reach because someone would steal them or hurt them. Every night I went to bed legitimately terrified someone was going to break into my house and steal my precious babies, I got physically ill from the intrusive images of someone climbing through the nursery window and taking away my precious newborn.

I screamed at total strangers for even looking at my children. That’s not normal.

Don't even think about looking at her because I'll cut you. No seriously.

Don’t even think about looking at her because I’ll cut you. No seriously.

I was too terrified to tell anyone because I was afraid they’d think I was an unfit mother and take them away. I was always afraid. I was certain that someone or something would take away what was most precious to me. When my son was born he was kept away from me while I lay helpless for 6 hours. That underlying trauma was the fuel behind the obsessive and intrusive fears.

Now I know better.

Before my grandfather passed away last year I wasted an unimaginable amount of time consumed by the worry and dread of the inevitable. I focused on the finality of his death instead of celebrating his life. This would occur six weeks before my hysterectomy, there was no way that I could process his death in that time frame. His death combined with such a major surgery was the equivalent of an emotional atomic bomb. I wasted over six months after my surgery in the purgatory of stagnate, suffocating, depression. I was a master bullshit artist, I perfected the art of pretending I was okay when I was as far away from okay that you could get.

Losing that piece of me threw me into an identity crisis because I felt androgynous. I had this subconscious attachment  to something that I never really purposely thought about unless it was torturing me, and even though it no longer served a purpose for me I had let it define me. I didn’t feel like a girl, even though technically speaking, I was. I didn’t feel much of anything for a long time.

Medication didn’t help, I so desperately wanted it to, but the placebo effects gave way to the reality that the happy pills were in fact not making me happy. It wasn’t the quick fix band aid I had hoped for. The right answers, the ones that matter, usually come after the pain and suffering of insurmountable loss. You can’t live your life on auto pilot.

This is the 'I'm totally fine' not fine face less than 2 weeks post op

This is the ‘I’m totally fine’ not fine face less than 2 weeks post op

Even though the hysterectomy made sense on paper – defective equipment combined with internal damage from a botched c section – My emotions wanted no part of common sense. I went through the motions of what normal should look like for months. Everything was black or white, “so over it”.

Not so over it. I had my baby incubator cut out of my body. three new scars to add to my collection.I kept my ovaries so I still have regular cycles complete with merciless PMS. My body would continue to torment me like some kind of biological version of ‘Mean Girls’. {Narrated by Gretchen Weiners} :

“I hope you’re enjoying you mood swings, cravings, acne and bloating …. Oh wait – that’s right – you don’t have a uterus ….”

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Assholes.

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Dealing with the post hysterectomy emotional tsunami is forcing me to find an identity as female – even though I can’t make ridiculously good looking children anymore – I am, in fact, still a girl.

It finally occurred to me .

I’m an amazing mother, I’m a good person. I might not always make the right decisions or say the right things, but at the end of the day I do the best I can with what I have. And I’m okay with that. It is through loss, grief, and struggle that a new sense of determination and strength was born. You can either stand with me or get the f*$ck out of my way, because you’re certainly not going to stop me.

~Birdie

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