A New Me

At first the grief was all-consuming. I vaguely watched the birds out my window and listened to them sing, saw the cat stalk them, watched as rain came and they disappeared and then the sun came out and so did the birds again. Night eventually smudged and then darkened my view although I kept staring out. Time meant nothing. I had somehow become stuck. What was life about? Why would I want to stay part of it?

My baby had died and some part of me had died too. The rest of me didn’t want to live either. I wanted to go with my baby and look after her. I was her mother. It felt like my right to. How cruel that I couldn’t. And how long would these tumbling feelings go on? I couldn’t bear it. I just lay there and when dawn came watched the disembodied world as the cycle of ordinary life went on except that it felt I was not part of it anymore. Worried people came and went around me. Nothing anyone said had any meaning. How could anything ever be normal again?

Gradually I realised the strongest feelings of terrible sadness and loss were coming in waves. The shock and numbness had receded a little and there were gaps in between where there was a faint sense of reality and less confusion. I began coming back from wherever I had been, at first unwillingly. I was left so exhausted that I finally did sleep for short naps, only to wake and try at first to deny my loss and guilt all over again, so then I’d resist sleep so that wouldn’t happen.

I do remember I was offered drugs but I couldn’t bear the thought of not thinking about my baby as if I would be denying her brief existence. I also knew somehow that there was no easy way around these feelings. Denying them wouldn’t work. They somehow had to be got through.

Although I couldn’t see the point at first, I did get through. Eventually. I just pretended I was okay again. That there wasn’t a stark line between me and everyone and everything else. That I wasn’t changed. That I was me still. But this me was very different. I was gradually sucked back into the seemingly trivial but necessary things about living again. Much of the time on automatic and often uncaring and impatient that I needed to.

Work helped by distracting and focusing my mind elsewhere and sometimes I’d forget to the point where I would even be able to laugh at something, which shocked me at first. Feeling briefly normal again did too, although a new normal, until those periods became more extensive. After a few months someone said to me, ‘I see you’re back with us again.’ I remember thinking that sounds like I had been travelling in another country, and he was right, I had been.

Dates and other things bring back the pain, but although it can be sharp, it is never as devastating as before. The memories of my lost baby are now absorbed into my mind, her minute cells, filled with her DNA, still part of my body and of whom I have now become.