Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Going Home

So after The Pretty Nurse left the room with Benjamin I stood there glued to the spot for a moment. I felt okay with her taking him. I didn't have any desire to cling to her leg and cry for her not to take him. I was okay. I had said all I wanted to say, done all I could do. I was still heartbroken, of course, but I knew this was the way it had to be. I knew I should get my room packed up, have a shower, and leave the hospital. Go home to Jackson. Part of me felt like I *should* get back in bed and cry for a while. Like I should still be mourning out loud. But I couldn't. I didn't feel I needed to. I would find in the coming days I experienced this a lot. This feeling that I *should* be feeling a certain way, but actually not feeling that way. It was as if I had read all about the 'proper' grieving timeline and I wasn't following it. It made me feel like I wasn't mourning my baby the right way, or not enough. But I can't, and shouldn't, force myself to cry if I didn't feel the need. There would be plenty of times that I would feel the need.

So I had a shower. As I stood in the cramped hospital shower I let the water pelt my face and wondered why I wasn't crying. Why did my heart not physically ache as much? Why were the tears not flowing? Why was I not doing the gut wrenching sobs? Was there something wrong with me? Did I not love him enough? Did I not miss him enough? Had I not wanted him enough? Deep down I knew this was stupid. I knew how much I loved, wanted and missed him. I knew that it was okay to have moments of okay, even moments of happiness. But it still bothered me. I always imagined that I would never get over the loss of a child; never be able to function normally again. And here I was, moments from handing my baby over to a nurse, never to see him again. And I was showering. And not crying.

After I got dressed and had my room all packed up Brian and his mom came back to get me. During my hospital stay we had received three bouquets of flowers. We had to carry these out of the hospital. The flowers were all beautiful arrangements. Colourful and large. Needless to say, we got compliments on them in the elevator and the hallway. People would comment on them in a happy tone; as if we had received them for a joyous occasion. It pissed me off. I had appreciated getting the flowers, don't get me wrong. But to carry these beautiful flowers out of the hospital instead of my baby; to get comments on how gorgeous the flowers were, instead of how gorgeous my baby was. This is what pissed me off. These well-meaning strangers had no idea of the hell I was in at that moment; had no idea what their comments were doing to me. I just had to get out of there. I was dreading leaving the hospital without Benjamin and this was not helping. I practically ran out of the elevator and out the front door. I could not get into the privacy of our car fast enough.

As I sat in the car, with a bouquet of white and green gerbera daisies on my lap, I cried. I did not want to be leaving the hospital without my baby. I remembered back to May 2007 when we left the hospital with Jackson for the first time. I remembered the joy and utter panic. I couldn't believe they were actually letting us take this baby home. That we were now solely responsible for him. Didn't they understand that we had no clue what we were doing? As we drove home that day so long ago we looked forward to the future. Our new life with our little boy.

This drive home was so much different. Brian and his mom sat in the front; me in the back. I cried the entire way home. It wasn't the gut-wrenching sobs or the painful lump in the throat kind of cry. It was the constant tears streaming down my face kind. Where it was just happening. My heart ached. Physically ached. I couldn't believe this was happening. I had imagined it so many times in the last few months. The drive home with my baby for the first time. Taking him home to our new life. This was not the scenario I had imagined. And it sucked.

Just a few days ago Brian's mom told me that on this drive home she saw a deer standing on the side of the road. There are a lot of deer around here but we are always in awe when we see them. It seems so surreal to just see them on the side of the road, we are used to Ontario where you only see them way out in the country, not on the side of a main road. Barbara said that neither Brian nor I saw it, and she didn't want to point it out. It was a big Buck and was just standing there proudly on the side of the road. I don't know what to do with this information. For some reason it feels important to me, in a symbolic sort of way. Usually I do not read into stuff like this, meaning like that is usually lost on me. Maybe that's why I don't know what to do with this information. It made me smile when she told me tho.

When we got back to our house my parents were there with Jackson. Jackson was very happy to see us and let me snuggle with him for a few minutes. I needed that. The first day home was so hard. I just kept looking beside my bed and thinking that the bassinet should be there. I was glad that we hadn't put the nursery together and hadn't pulled the bassinet out of storage. It was easier to deal with being home without all those physical reminders staring me in the face.

In the book I read, 'An Exact Figment of my Imagination', the author (Elizabeth McCracken) says "After most deaths, I imagine, the awfulness lies in how everything's changed: you no longer recognize the form of your days. There's a hole. It's person-shaped and it follows you everywhere, to bed, to the dinner table, in the car. For us what was killing was how nothing had changed. We'd been waiting to be transformed, and now here we were, back in our old life." This sums it up perfectly. When I read this it gave how I felt words, gave it meaning. That was exactly what the problem was. Here we were, back in our old life. Nothing had changed. We still were the parents of an amazing little boy, but only one amazing little boy. I had been pregnant and now I wasn't but all around us life was going on just as it was. There was no nursery to set up or put away. That room was still just Jackson's playroom. There was no extra laundry, no sleepless nights, no baby cries to be heard throughout the house. Everything was the same. There was no transformation from a family of 3 to a family of 4. And that hurt.

Over the next few days we came to terms with it. For the first couple days I had weird physical symptoms of grief. My chest hurt. I felt like there was always a weight on my chest, like I couldn't get a deep enough breath. My heart hurt too. It's weird how your heart can physically hurt from such a loss. I'd always thought that was just an expression, someone trying to make more out of a situation, be dramatic with their words. But it's true. My heart ached. It would stop me dead in my tracks on occasion. One day Brian, Barbara and I were talking about making quilts. She was asking if I would make her a queen size quilt for her bed. I told her that I only make lap quilts. Brian quipped in 'or baby quilts'. I started bawling. Such a random conversation and yet it caused immediate grief to me. (and yes, Brian felt horrible for his comment, even though it was completely innocent, lol).

Over the next week Barbara went home, then my mom went home, then my dad went home. The flowers stopped being delivered. The emails stopped coming. The phone calls slowed down. People were getting on with their lives. Still thinking about us, I'm sure, but they were continuing on with their normal day-to-day activities. We were happy for that. We are not the type of people that like being in the spotlight, the constant 'how are you doing?' and the constant attention was starting to make us uncomfortable. We appreciated it immensely, but we were ready to try to figure out our new life. We felt we had to.

These days we talk about Benjamin a bit less. Not because we don't think about him or because we are trying to 'forget' him. Just because we have to. What else is there to say about him? We love him, we miss him, we wish this had never happened, but there is nothing new to say. We've said all of that a million times. It's not going to change. I went looking for a photo album the other day for all of his photos. That was surprisingly hard. We have about 70 photos of him; ones Heather took, ones we took, my pregnancy photo, the ultrasound pictures. As I stood in the album aisle of the store I had to fight back the tears. I wanted an album that I could put every single picture in, whether the photo was a good one or not. I wanted every picture we had of him treasured. Some of the albums were too small. They would only hold 30 photos. Then other ones were too big, they were meant for many more photos than we had. I did not want blank pages in my album of Benjamin. There would never be new photos. I could never add to the album. This made me so sad. His entire existence was going to be in this album and most of them were too long. His life was just too short.

Jackson looks at Benjamin's photos all the time. I have a little collage of them by my computer. Jackson will come up to it and point at the photo and say 'baby'. I am teaching him to say 'Ben'. We do not, and probably will not, call him Ben. But 'Benjamin' is too hard and too long for Jackson to be able to say. So he can call his little brother Ben. He is the only one tho. That is his special name for his baby brother. His sweet little baby brother that he will never get to meet. At least not in the physical. Benjamin will always live on in his heart tho. He will know the story of Benjamin. He will know he has a sweet baby brother. And he will know of the love. You cannot know any of the story of Benjamin without knowing of the love. Because that is the most important part.

And I do love you, Benjamin. More than you could have ever known. It's not fair and it sucks. What I would give to have you in my arms right now. But that's not the way it is and I have come to terms with that. For the most part.

1 comment:

  1. You are a beautiful writer. I stumbled across your blog through The Spohrs are Multiplying.... I will be thinking of both you and Heather on your babies' birthday this year. I am so sorry for your loss, and I think it is powerful and wonderful that you are honoring your son in this way. What an amazing Mommy you are. You can just feel how much you love your children through your words. Thank you for sharing them with the world.