It is time to conquer this.

I went to my first counselor appointment today.  And let me just say, the need to write all this out is stronger than I’ve ever experienced.  I knew that the first appointment would be to gather a glimpse at some of my history, figure out where I am at and come up with a plan for treatment moving forward.  The appointment was supposed to last 45 minutes.  It went for a full hour and a half.  You know when a counselor exclaims “Wow you have such a rich history”… it must mean you are really screwed up.  LOL.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to throw it all out there like that in a timeline.  It was a bit of a shock to my system when I did and realized just how much I have been through, how much there was to screw me up.  No wonder I don’t feel my age.

Age 17 – hospitalized for depression
Age 19 – Got married to highschool sweetheart
Age 20 – Had a baby/ Experienced physical and emotional abuse first hand
Age 20 – Got divorced – Very messy, very scary time of my life full of restraining orders and such
Age 21 – Met a man with a son a little older than my own child
Age 22 – Got married / returned to school
Age 23 – Started my business
Age 24 – Diagnosed with major health issue – caused myself harm due to depression
Age 26 – Started working corporate
Age 27 – Got pregnant with Ben – had ben – lost ben/ watched family break apart
Age 28 – Started working for Microsoft/Pregnant with my little one/Miracle baby!
Age 29 – surgery to make it extremely unlikely to have more children
Age 30 – Divorce
Age 31 – Back to the world of dating (Ew)
Age 32 – Facing a potential miscarriage

Yup.  You read that last one right.  My chances were less than 3% to get pregnant again.  And here I sit, grieving for another little one… or at least what was the potential of a little one.  I feel like this one – it’s all my fault.  I got so stressed out this week.  Had I just found a way to settle and stay calm perhaps the results would not be this way?  I know that everything happens for a reason… I know that now was just not when I’d planned on getting pregnant – hell I never planned on getting pregnant again.  But what I didn’t know – was how much I wanted it, until “There is no heartbeat, I’m sorry.” came out of the doctor’s mouth.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t think.  I’m still reeling.  And now, I’m just waiting.  Waiting for my body to realize what’s happened and catch up.  I’m shaken up.  I’m scared.  Scared to lose T.  But I think more than anything else.  I’m scared to lose ME.  I’ve done so well in the last few years.  Worked through so much.  Seeing a counselor was long overdue.  But seeing her also made me see just how screwed up my life has been.  It made me realize just how scared I am.  How well I do at putting on my masks and posturing around how strong I am.  I’m not strong… I’m just too prideful to let anyone see me break, even myself.  I’m scared that everyone and everything I love will leave or walk away or be taken away.  I feel like I don’t deserve to be loved… that loving me would somehow cause others to be burdened by me.  Oy.  What a thing to realize.  What a thing to try and overcome.  But damn it… that’s my goal.  I’m going to beat this.  This low self esteem bull shit.  I’m going to prove to myself that I am worthy.  Ok, fine, i’m young.  I’ve had it hard.  But so have a LOT of people.  I’m not special.  I’m simply human.  And it means we keep swimming.  Even when we forget how to breathe.  I WILL conquer this.  Why?  Because I can.  Because I believe in my ability to learn and grow.  Because I want it that badly.

Thank god for stubbornness.

Musings over the hypothetical

Asking-For-Help

I rarely ask for help.  I rarely will admit defeat enough to realize that I even NEED help.  I suppose it’s prideful, but I don’t like to admit to that kind of weakness.

I feel like today, I am officially raising my hand.  I’m feeling lost and very alone in some decisions that I have to make.  The last thing I need or want right now, is to be alone with my thoughts.  I’m in this strange stage where the last thing in the world that I want is to be alone or to be given space.  T is the kind of guy who needs his alone time and space, so I feel bad asking for more of his time.  I hate to think of myself as a needy or clingy kind of girl.  And because he’s the type to need his space… he doesn’t fully understand what I mean when I asked him to check up on me.  I explained where I was at, and did my best to help him understand that this week, I could really use his attention and time.  He promised to check on me, but I don’t think he really gets it.  Oh well – I suppose this is one of those learning curve kind of moments.  At least I’m doing fairly well with communicating.  We’ll get there. I’m grateful for what time I get and even more appreciative of how affectionate and sweet he’s been this week.  Thankfully, the bro and his girlfriend have recognized that in me and have kept a very close watch over me in the last couple of days.  My appreciation for them doing that is immense.  I booked an appointment with a counselor.  She specializes in a few things that I know I need to work on.  Self esteem being one of them.  I wish the appointment was this week.  Monday feels very far away.

In the past couple of days – I’ve gotten into some interesting conversations with a few people in my inner circle about a subject I’ve never broached before.  I tend to avoid subjects like religion and politics with friends.  Why go there?  But in the last couple of days – a new subject has come up.  Abortion.  It’s amazing what you learn about people when these topics come up.  Hell, it’s amazing what you learn about yourself.

I’m pro-choice.  Which – I should add, that means I believe someone has a choice.  They can choose to continue a pregnancy and they can choose to end it.  CHOICE being the key word there.  For me personally, I’ve always chosen life.  But that choice always came with a cost.  I chose to continue the pregnancy with Ben and my choice led to a grown man destroying himself.  But I also had a different kind of choice.  I had to choose to turn off the machines and give up on my son.  I had to sign a paper telling the doctors and medical staff to not save his life or work on him further.  I then had to hold him in my arms and watch and listen to him as he took his final breaths.  It broke me.  Not sure I’ve ever really admitted that fully.  I do a lot of posturing about my strength and how I watched everyone else crumble.  I rarely admit to the fact that inside – I died that day too.  Me – one of the most stubborn people on the planet, gave up on one of the few people in my life who I should NEVER give up on.  My child.  Because of this – I don’t think I could ever go through with an abortion.  No judging from my end on those who could or do – I just think the guilt and shame and depression would suck me under and I’d never break free again.

BUT – all of that said – I know for a fact that I also could never go through a pregnancy like the ones I’ve gone through in the past.  Where I’m alone in wanting to bring that child into the world.  Where every joy and every milestone is ignored or goes unnoticed or uncelebrated.  People say it’s a woman’s choice because it’s her body – and yes – that is true.  But the choice a woman makes can make or break a situation.  In the past – when my ex asked in his own way for me to abort a pregnancy – I triumphantly would declare HELL NO or FUCK OFF.  Were I to be in that kind of situation now, with the man I love,…if he wasn’t comfortable or felt it to be unwise, I’d find a way to deal with it and likely give him what he wants.  Not sure I’ve ever loved a man THAT much before.  I mean – yes, I’d be heart broken if he wasn’t excited and ready to take that leap off the parenting cliff with me, but it’d be better knowing that sooner rather than later.  I love my kids, I love being a parent.  The unconditional love you feel and experience when you hold your child for the first time.  It’s indescribable.  And I’d love another child.  A little girl.  Maybe someday, it’ll happen and maybe not.  But I know me – I refuse to ruin a man’s life by chaining him with a child he doesn’t want for 18 years.  That the idea of a pregnancy alone is so horrible, that I’d abort and find a good counselor and fight the depression, the guilt, and the pain just to make that man happy.  Why?  Because I feel I can take the pain.  I’ve already experienced the most incredibly painful thing in the world… how bad could it be? The bro thinks my opinion is nuts.  That a man should man up.  Accept it and be there, or don’t and bugger off for good.  He got angry with me over my opinion.  Saying that if I ever got into that type of situation… that he’d hope that I’d do what is best for ME, not the man.  He went on and on about how it would speak volumes about a man if he allowed me to put myself through the emotional turmoil of ending a life again.

It leaves me curious – dear readers.  I know it’s a taboo subject, so please don’t think me rude for asking – but what are your thoughts and opinions on this?

choices

Ben’s Story

The following is an excerpt from my journal.  4 years ago.  I’m in a much better place today obviously, but for those who asked… here is what i’m willing to share – at least for today. 🙂

08/04/2009

So this has been one of the toughest pregnancies I ever thought i’d deal with.  I’m depressed – more than depressed if I’m honest.  I never thought i’d want to be validated just for being pregnant.  There are pregnant ladies all over my work – and the other women in the building are always cooing over how big they’ve grown or how they glow – no one says a damn word to me.  They don’t even know what’s going on with me.  I talk to the belly all the time – and play games poking back when i get kicked – but no one in the family (hubby included) does anything like that.  I can’t do a baby shower until after I know whether my little ben will make it or not, i can’t do a nursery for the same reason.  I understand those reasonings, but I’m pregnant – when can i find a little time to have some JOY in that other than what I’m doing for myself?  I understand the hubby – he’s afraid to get more attached – afraid that it will only make it harder.  But it’s NOT fair!  What if Ben makes it – and is fine – or has to fight but ends up making it?  What then?  Yea I know – party down big time as a celebration for the little guy – but doesn’t he deserve some celebration anyway?  There is life in the tummy and no one seems to care.  I just don’t know how anyone does it.  How do you get through this without falling apart before hand?  So much mystery surrounds the outcome of these types of pregnancies – how do you make it without becoming a completely depressed basket case?

10/21 – He’s HERE!!!!

Ben

10/26/2009

Well so far I’ve been “kicked out” of the NICU a couple of times – the nurses all joke that they see me in there far too much and that I need more rest.   My hospital has parent suites for NICU parents – like a hotel room – you can stay overnight 2 nights a week free of charge.  I’m here tonight as his surgery is in the morning and I wanted as much mommy and ben time as I could get.  Been here all day, will be here all day tomorrow too.  I’m absolutely exhausted mind you – but I figure I can rest after his surgery.

I’m absolutely terrified of this surgery for him tomorrow – I guess the neurosurgeon who’s doing it is one of the best here in Seattle – so that’s at least comforting.

Jen

10/29/2009

update on Ben:

ben made it through his surgery and is just amazing the doctors left and right.  they have the shunt on the lowest setting for now, that evening they took him off the ventilator (they put him on it for the surgery) and proved the docs wrong by sucking on his pacifier for a full hour.  The next morning they put him in a normal crib as he’s holding his temp.  he’s been trying the bottle since then, getting a little but on a feeding tube still to ensure he’s getting enough.

He’s more alert and isn’t having any issues other than the feeding tube.  The docs are saying he may even get to come home by the first or second week of nov.  i’m so amazed.  They’re calling him the miracle baby lol.

Me however, they re-admitted me.  I pushed it too hard i guess, my incision came open.  Been here since tuesday for the re-admit and won’t go home till sunday or so by the sounds of it.  I pushed it too hard.  Tried to be too strong for his sake.  God I hate hospitals lol.

Jen

11/29/2009

My baby – after fighting through 2 surgeries, spending 24 days in the NICU and getting to come home for 9 glorious days – was taken back to the PICU and spent another 8 days fighting for his life.  Yesterday, he joined the angels.  I’m so incredibly sad.  On one hand I got to spend 5 weeks with him, I got to look at his beautiful face and tell him exactly how much I loved him.  I even got to dance with him in my living room to my favorite song, so I’m grateful I got that, but on the other hand I’m absolutely beyond devastated.  I woke up this morning and looked in his crib.  I can’t believe he’s gone.  I’ve been carrying his blankie around with me like Linus on Charlie Brown.  I’m so grateful I still have 5 weeks left of maternity leave.  Not quite sure how you breathe after something like this.  It just feels so final.  He took his final breaths in my arms and went so peacefully – but I just want to scream and yell “WHY?!?!”  I just want my baby back, in my arms at home where he belongs!!! I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that he’s never coming back.  This is my first experience with death and it’s not fair that the first time I get to experience something like this is with my own child.  Children aren’t supposed to go first!

Jen

03/25/2010

So it’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything here.  And today – I feel like there’s an extra pile of straw on this camel’s back and I’m going to break.  I miss my son.  I think I thought grief would be like anything.  When you get sick or you get injured, you slowly get better.  Every day you get better and better.  Grief doesn’t seem to be like that.  It seems it’s a bit more like a roller coaster.  You have good days and bad, good weeks and bad.  Everyone around me is pregnant.  And while I’m incredibly happy for them.  I’m also incredibly angry and hurt by it.  My best friend has a teenager who’s pregnant and due any day.  She’s spent the last 9 months going back and forth about whether or not she wanted to drop this baby off at the local fire station, or adopt it out or keep it.  I sucked it up and threw her a baby shower.  It set me back $600 and a hell of a lot of heart ache.  No one threw me a baby shower with ben – so I think part of it was me making up for that.  But the baby is due any day and all I can think of is “why?!”  Why does she get to have a healthy baby?  Why does she get to keep him?  Ever since Ben died, everything in my life is changing.  My husband decided he wanted to go back to school.  He wants to become a respiratory therapist and help save lives.  And while I’m incredibly proud of him for what he’s doing – our marriage is falling apart.  He’s an alcoholic.  He’s getting help – sorta.  But he won’t stop lying to me.  After Ben died – he had a bit of a mental breakdown.  Said a lot of hurtful things.  Blamed me and my genes for Ben.  Said that he regretted having our son.  Said that I should have caught the doctor’s mistakes, that my not catching them equates me to be a murderer.  That I’m so damn smart about all things – and yet I fucked this up.  Things he can’t take back.  And while I’m working on learning to forgive – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.  A month ago, I had to go to the hospital.  My pituitary gland has shut down and all the systems it controls aren’t working right.  So I’m fighting, and I get an hour, sometimes 2 of sleep every night.  They’re doing tests and unfortunately those tests take time to get the results back.  The doc told me not only am I going through all of that, but he feels I’m experiencing acute grief.  He warned me that I need to avoid stress at all costs right now, because stress will make my symptoms even worse.  I know part of it is because I haven’t really had the chance TO grieve.  I’m the only one with a job in our family.  It’s a good job – but highly stressful.  Combine that with a husband who can’t seem to be good and honest for more than 2 weeks at a time and I’d say my own personal stress level is sky high.  He’s drinking behind my back again.  Lying to me about it, hiding it.  Driving under the influence.  I need to somehow get out of this.  I know it to be true.  There are times when all I want to do is crawl into my closet and hide from all the world.  My “so called” friends have all decided to be mad at me just because I’m not being very social.  But when i get home, I just want to take a nap.  This whole not sleeping thing is really quite tough to battle and I’m doing my best.  I had one “friend” tell me I was self-absorbed all because I didn’t email her the same day she emailed me.  I’m not self absorbed, I’m lost.  I’m devastated.  I don’t know how what to do to move forward.  I’ve never felt so lost.  So alone.  On a positive note, I’m doing better at work than I ever have, and I never knew I was this strong before – but that doesn’t make it any easier.  I wish my body would function normally.  The doc said part of it is because of what I went through in the pregnancy.  I don’t know what i want as far as responses… I guess I just like knowing that I’m sending this out into the void.  It’s only been 4 months since I lost Ben and I know it’s gotta be perfectly normal to experience a lot of what I’m going through – but damn.  I miss him.  I miss him so much it hurts.  I still sleep with his blanket every night.  It no longer smells like him.

Jen

*********************************’

What’s interesting to me – is how far I’ve come.  I’ve gotten a lot healthier.  I’ve finally realized my own worth.  Or am at least on the path to realizing it fully.  I live each day for the moment.  Funny, the pain fades a lot over time.  4 years.  I don’t hurt like I did.  Sometimes, but not very often.  I still don’t feel that i’ve grieved.  I have done all I could to put on my war paint and masks and go to work and be the responsible adult.  Support the household.  At least I’m not dealing with cruelness or addiction anymore.  I don’t have to worry about someone putting a hole in my wall from their anger.  There’s peace and happiness, forward motion in my life again.