So lately, as I look around at the people in the world, at times I find myself zeroing in on someone random (of any age), thinking, “I wonder why that person is alive and Matthew isn’t…” I don’t like that I always think these things, but I can’t help it.
It was kind of out of character for me to do what I did last Monday – login to my old Facebook account to post a guerilla awareness message. It almost makes me wonder whether the Zoloft contributed to my impulsivity. I’m okay with it – as a result, many more know Matthew and are also more aware of baby loss and what it does to a person. However, a few of the “likes” provoked some interesting reactions from yours truly, like, “Oof – I didn’t remember being friends with Mark’s co-worker,” and, “Eek – I wrote about that person in my blog once!”
Overall though, the response was overwhelmingly supportive (with the exception of the person who unfriended me), making me think I’ve always chosen relatively decent friends, and several even messaged me to share about their own losses, so I’m considering the experience a net positive. Though my ~24 hour stint on the social media site confirmed to me that becoming a Facebook user again isn’t in my best interests from a mental health standpoint. In the short time I was logged in, I caught an obscene number of glimpses of children around Matthew’s age, causing me to feel pretty alone in my loss, even though others had JUST messaged me to tell me about their own losses – this goes to show that the images people use to portray their lives as perfect are effective in diminishing our (or at least my!) self-esteem/mental health/overall quality of life.
So I’ve been told that because my seizure caused me to experience a momentary loss of consciousness, under Missouri rules, I’m not allowed to drive until I go six months seizure-free. (Last time I had a seizure, I was already asleep, so I didn’t technically lose consciousness, hence this rule didn’t apply.) So I guess I’m going to take Uber to work and also bum rides from AB, which will be fun, because she has a lot to fill me in on re: who’s hooking up with who around the office. I’m kind of annoyed that I can’t drive, but I’m also strangely unaffected – like I know this isn’t the worst freaking tragedy in the world…
The guy who sits next to my office came in to apologize to me yesterday for not reacting when he heard my body hit the floor. This is the same guy who never noticed I was pregnant and then, after I went out on maternity leave, it took him two weeks to notice my absence. He is our floor’s designated user of the defibrilator, but me thinks, had I actually needed the defibrilator, I would have died waiting for it – the designated defibrilator user needs to have his head on a goddamn swivel, which this guy doesn’t.
Mark likes to watch for real estate to come for sale in our neighborhood so he can try to convince some of our friends to become our neighbors. This super unique house recently came available – it’s a century home with a pizza oven and a guesthouse that doubles as a magician’s workshop, and it’s weird, but he still managed to persuade some of our friends, who’ve also lost a child, to come look at it. So he set up an appointment with our agent, Joel, for a showing. We brought our Joel, and my friend brought her two rainbow babies, and Agent Joel was all like, “OMG – so many kids! Are you sure there aren’t more stashed away somewhere?” and it got very awkward, very quickly, and I contemplated answering, “Actually, maybe in an urn…” but I didn’t, so later, Agent Joel was like, “How do you all know each other?” and I was like, “Support group – both of us lost a baby,” and he was like, “Oh that’s great! I mean, not great! I mean, the support aspect is great!” The whole time I was screaming in my head, “Shut the hell up, Joel!!!”
I think this article, Children Don’t Always Live, is one of the best (and most heartbreaking) I’ve ever read on child loss – I’ve read it at least 12 times.
Mark recently informed me that he frequently encounters situations at work that make him sad, but he doesn’t always tell me about said situations, because he fears doing so will only increase my sadness. And I told him this isn’t true – it’s impossible to make me more sad than I already am. So Mark told me about how, the other day, he was out at a client, and everyone was talking about their children, and they were all asked to show pictures, and all of these people knew about Matthew, yet, upon seeing the pictures, including the one of Joel, someone commented, “Oh, how cute – everyone’s firsts!” And Mark was right – hearing this made me burst into tears.
The other day, after a meeting adjourned, one of our VPs pulled up a video of a co-worker’s child, and this child is only a little bit older than Matthew, and she was all like, “Look – he is just sooooo cute, and he’s grown up sooooo much!” and I just let my boss and my other co-worker watch the video as I exited the room, because these things still cut like a knife, so much so that I often wonder if I could ever have a genuine friendship with anyone with a child close to Matthew’s age, and I am honestly currently unsure of the answer to this. And I know Joel is close to Matthew’s age, but he doesn’t really have “friends” yet, so I don’t have to be friends with his friends’ parents – I can cross this bridge when I come to it.
I don’t remember much from my ambulance ride on Tuesday, but I do remember the paramedic asking me how many children I have. I answered honestly, shocked that I couldn’t even escape this question during an ambulance ride.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but as Joel grows up, sometimes I think about how I’ll tell Joel he has a dead brother, and it makes me really depressed.
Mark was recently initiated into this local charitable/professional/networking/important-for-his-career-or-whatever organization. He attended a new members’ event, where each of the initiates were roasted over various aspects of their submitted profiles. But Mark informed me that he wasn’t really roasted – everyone was scared to roast him, because his profile included his dead child. Oh how I wish he could have been roasted with everyone else.
The aforementioned organization also recently had a party, and Mark dragged (drug?) me along to it, and I had to actually engage in small talk with strangers for the first time since Matthew died, and I had to meet new people and pretend to be interested in them and pretend to enjoy it. I tell Mark that I’ve lost my social skills, and I can’t effectively do this anymore. He tells me I still do a good job, so I don’t know, but, of course, on this particular night, the first couple we met was expecting their first child, and my conversation with the wife, S, went something like this…
Me (trying to avoid the topic of kids and pregnancy) – What do you do?
S – I’m a midwife at Mercy Hospital!
Me – Ohhhhh… Ummmmm… Uhhhhh…
S – Do you have kids?
Me – Yes, two boys.
S – How old?
Me – Well, Matthew would be a little over one year old, but he sadly passed away. And Joel is almost three months old.
S (starts crying) – Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry for your loss. I see scary things in my job all of the time, but I’m trying not to make myself sick with worry. And congratulations on Joel!
Me – Thank you. And congratulations to you.
S – Thanks!
And then, naturally, the rest of the conversation revolved around their child’s impending arrival and their nursery decorations and their baby showers, and it was really strange and kind of painful for Mark and I to have to pretend that their baby is guaranteed to live when ours died. It’s the type of thing that makes me feel alone and like crap and also the type of thing I’m not very good at anymore. It all just feels so wrong.
Joel was three months old yesterday! He’s getting less screamy and showing more and more personality. And he loves, loves, loves his grandma’s stories (the ones I post on Instagram), probably even more than mommy does! We’re having a blast watching him react to said stories and everything else in his environment. I’m excited to dress Joel up as something – don’t know what – for Halloween.