Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The effect of loss

Just needed to get something off my chest...

Every day of my life, painful twinges and reminders of my loss are a reality. I don't need much prompting. A song, a picture, or in moments of silence, in prayer, HE comes to mind. It comes to mind everytime people ask "Are they triplets?" or some well meaning person calls them "TRIPLETS." It's a constant reminder - he is missing. He did exist. I don't talk about it. It is way too painful. I did lots of talking about it early on and then I couldn't anymore. I went through shock and denial. I went through anger (at God, at me) and I went through depression or what I think of as agony. I went through all Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. I know as a therapist, there are some things you don't get over and this is one of them. It is certainly more bearable day by day and it isn't an unceasing pain. I live and I feel happy (yes, of course at times I feel guilty for feeling happy too and then you feel guilt for feeling guilt because you have 3 beautiful, healthy children and you should feel blessed and I do). It's that magenta feeling that is described by Sallie Field in the movie "Steel Magnolias."

When I made it through the dark days of uncertainty and felt assured by God through the many prayers that my babies would be a reality, I felt freed of anxiety. My babies had made it. I felt we were "home free." What new mom thinks their child will die? We just don't. When it happens, the protective bubble is removed. You become AWARE. Suddenly, I was aware that my kids could die, that I could die, that we all die. It isn't like lightning not striking twice in the same place. It can happen again. I could lose another child and it scares the bejeebers out of me.

Thoughts of death and dying came to the forefront after the trauma of loss. I would wonder when I was driving down the road how could people just go about all this insignificant life stuff with the realization that they are going to die and yes, it could be today. Of course, they couldn't. I wondered more about all the philisophical questions that I thought were answered through my Philosophy 101 class in undergraduate. You know the questions: "What is the meaning of life?" "What are the proofs of God's existence?" etc. and I started second guessing and questioning my beliefs.

I would and still do have nightmares and daymares. I refer to them as daymares but they are intrusive thoughts/anxieties about bad things that can happen. A friend of mine, who is a doctor, told me about a friend losing his 2 year old child because he choked on a hot dog. He told me that the child could have been saved if they had known how to trach the child, but of course not being doctors or paramedics, they didn't know how to do this and the paramedics took 8 minutes to get there. It was too late. He gave me an overview of where the hole is placed, but I wasn't sure I had the right spot. I asked my nephew who is a paramedic about the trach procedure so I would know. He looked at me like I had completely lost it. I explained the story and it still didn't seem to register with him that I want to know HOW just in case. Humor me here! I already experienced the metaphorical lightning striking.

So I don't know how to trach. I do know CPR and the heimlich, but I don't want to be in that position again. I try not to give them chokeable foods or if I give them foods such as hotdogs, I painstakingly cut their hotdogs into 1/4 slices to ensure that they couldn't lodge in their throat. I still do the same with small fruits and they are almost 5 years old. I have seen them choke and I go into panic mode. Of course, they have always coughed and cried. Thank you God!

Another intrusive fearful thought is drowning. I fear them drowning. I don't want them at any house with a pool when I am not there. They don't know how to swim yet, but we have worked with them. I need them to know how to swim. They WILL learn how this year. I don't mean to offend anyone that has a pool and is willing to watch my children. Their aunt is a wonderful trustworthy caretaker who loves my kids, but it happens every day to wonderful, caring parents who have pools.

We have a little canal that only has water/alligators too when it rains. That's another fear. If they are asleep and I am leaving them at home with their dad, the security alarm has to be on. He needs to hear them if they get up and walk out of the house.

I have daymares of them being in an auto accident. I try to be as careful as I can when I am driving, but one fear is deer jumping out. We live in a wooded community and in the boonies where there are a lot of deer. The highway is lined with forest and that is a possibility. I cannot stand it when my husband drives 60-70 mph on the highway, especially at twilight or night, as who knows what is going to jump in front of you. One of his friends is a paramedic and told me a story about a scene of an accident that he went to that involved hitting animals. The baby didn't make it is the short version. It stays in my mind.

Stories of how children get backed over come into mind too. I remember a news story about a woman in Sebring/Avon Park who had her family over for Christmas and as her sister went to leave, she didn't see the 1 year old child in the drive way. It's unimaginable. How can the mother ever forgive her sister? How can the sister/aunt bear the pain of being the responsible party for the loss of that child? They will be forever damaged.

I have realized that what I experience is NORMAL for the context of my experience. I am not ill. I am a mother who lost a child and now has a new reality, one that encompasses the possibility that it could happen again. My intrusive thoughts are my anxiety about this and need to CONTROL for every possible negative outcome. Yes, it borders on OCD, but given the context of working with victims of trauma and doing critical incident stress debriefing, I realize this is part of life after trauma. Of course, I can't control for everything. I do believe the only one that can protect my children is ultimately God and I beg him for this every day without fail. I ask him to protect my children from "injury, accident, illness, and death." I pray he lets me live long enough to see them grow up. I know they need their mother. I hope they know every day I am here and beyond that I LOVE THEM with everything I am and have to give and I will go to no end to protect them and give them the best I can in life. They deserve it. They mean everything to me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011