What’s keeping you?

It’s 2:00 am. Another night where I’ve kept my husband up with me watching bad TV until almost midnight. I feel even worse about that knowing that he has to work in the morning. For the past two hours I’ve surfed the web for random sources of entertainment, searched new books on my kindle, read two “stillborn stories,” and played a silly game on my phone. Then I turned off the electronic devices and placed them on my nightstand. Our counselor says it’s not good to increase your brain activity with those things before bedtime but I just don’t know what else to do. When I lay down in bed my mind just goes haywire. I slowly feel my anxiety increase as the minutes count down to sunrise. Watching the hours inch toward daylight adds to the pressure in my head that I should be asleep. That just leads to more restlessness. The real kicker is that I need a sleep aid of some kind every night. I hate taking medicine. I don’t want to take something that encourages me to sleep my day away. But I know that I can’t get to sleep without one. That sucks. Most days I try to get to bed before midnight so I can take a Benadryl–which does a pretty good job of helping me get to and stay asleep through the night. I feel it’s better than other meds which can have long term effects on your body over time–like stomach bleeding–and that’s the last thing I need right now. Initially, I tried Tylenol PM. I still take it occasionally–usually a half of a pill just to help me fall asleep. That’s what I did tonight. As you can see, it was a failed attempt.

So, what keeps me up? A lot of things. Work. Money. Vacation. The seasons. Holidays. Then there’s the one that hangs over all of the others–that my precious baby is gone.

Work. I have to go back. It scares the hell out of me. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle the stress and pressure of my job anymore. I consider myself a diligent worker. Someone who cares about the quality of work I produce. I want to do a good job for me, my co-workers, and my family. I think that my current state may hold me back from the capacity of work I normally do. I have a very demanding job. I wish I could say that I’m a doctor who saves lives every day, but I don’t. I work in advertising and the hours and deadlines are challenging. I’ve always struggled to find a balance between personal and work life. I drive 45 minutes each way to work and typically end my work day between 6 and 8:00 pm. I spend my evenings trying to jam in as much quality time as possible with my husband, dogs, and family, when our schedules align. I don’t know that I will be able to keep those hours anymore. I’m mentally tired these days. I’m afraid of being far away from Chris–far enough that if I need him, or if he needs me, we won’t be there for each other. My husband works from home on most days and I’m afraid he’ll have too much time to think when it’s not busy. I don’t want him to feel alone and sad as a result. I don’t want us to feel abandoned by each other. If he calls and I’m in a meeting I may not be able to answer and talk when he needs me. That sucks, because in my heart he is my true priority. If I’m busy on a deadline with no time for breaks, how will I take pause when I need to get away and just be sad? I’m afraid that I won’t care about our unappreciative clients and their crazy requests. I’m worried that work “emergencies” will feel so trivial compared to the enormous tragedy that has occurred in my life. How can I keep those feelings a secret? I work in a very open environment. The layout is basically one room lined with short-walled cubicles. It’s hard to escape the noise and chaos on a busy day. I’m worried how I will react when hearing other people’s conversations–about their families, mostly. I just found out that a new girl started in my absence and just had a baby boy. The girl who sits diagonal to me recently announced her pregnancy to the agency and is around 4 months along. It’s easy to be happy for them and want to wish them congratulations, but I know there is a part of me who will be crying inside–and maybe even on the outside. I just want my baby boy. I worry that I will think of my own pregnancy when people ask her how she’s feeling. I’ll have to attend her shower and hold back the tears. How will I escape the feeling that everyone is looking at me as they give her gifts and well wishes? I wouldn’t want to make anyone else feel bad–after all, they should be able to enjoy it the way I did. I’m as afraid of the people who approach me with kind thoughts and sad eyes as I am of the people who act like nothing has happened. It’s easier to care for yourself and avoid tough experiences when you have the freedom to do what you want. I’m afraid of the limitations that being at work will add to an already difficult situation. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to leave work early enough to make our counseling sessions, which is far from my job. I feel those sessions, along with the evening walks my husband and I take, are so important to my healing. I really don’t want to compromise them. I wanted to go back to work gradually. I asked my boss if I could do three days a week through the rest of the year, knowing it was a long shot. She said it’s not possible, that they need the staff and I would, obviously, take a pay cut. Although a 3-day schedule may prove good for my head, I don’t think I’d be able to swing it financially. So, I’ll be thinking of a new plan to throw in front of my boss this week. All I know is that I should be returning in the first week of August. I’m sure that in some ways it will be good for me. I also want to plan something special–a small vacation, perhaps–for our 5th wedding anniversary. I’m not sure how that will go over with work now that I’ve been gone so long.

Vacation and money. Shortly after we lost Rylan I wanted to run. Immediately. Anywhere. Mostly to my favorite place, Maui. I also threw around the idea of going somewhere special for our anniversary which is on September 6th. I’ve looked at everything from Sedona spas and the Grand Canyon to Hawaii and Delaware. I don’t know if I can go in September since I’ll just be getting back to work, but I at least need to ask for a day or two. I don’t know if I’ll have the money to go anywhere right now, anyway. We’ve had a lot to take care of in the financial department in the past few months. I just want to do something to mark our marriage. After all, our love is what’s getting us through every day.

Seasons and holidays. I’m afraid of the seasons changing. I believe that the summer months have helped me through these tough days, even if just a little. To be honest, I’m allergic to winter time. At least, it feels that way. Once the weather is cold and it’s time to trade flip-flops for down jackets a part of my body shuts down. My hair is limp and staticky. My skin is pale and dry. My heart eventually feels like it slumps into some kind of sad state that only blue skies and sun can cure. I feel that way even in a normal year–a year when I’m not dealing with a huge loss. I am terrified that once the leaves blow off of the trees and we’re left with dead branches it will be harder to fight off depression. When we’re cooped up indoors day after day the hurt in my heart will linger more at the surface. It’s nice having sunshine, evening walks, and butterflies. I’m not sure where winter will leave me this time. I don’t want to be stuck inside with my devastation. And, of course we can’t forget the holidays. I pictured this year as being our first Christmas as parents, laying with our son on the couch listening to music and watching the tree lights twinkle as a family. Buying that cheesy “Babies First Christmas” ornament. Dressing Ry up in a sweet holiday outfit and showing off our beautiful son to relatives and friends. Without him, I’m not sure I’ll feel okay to be with family and friends. It will be hard to watch all of the other families with their children and not reflect on our loss. If I sit here with tears in my eyes as I think ahead, how will I be when the real festivities arrive?

My sweet baby boy. Some days I just can’t handle his absence. It breaks my heart. I can only describe it as a type of “separation anxiety.” It’s just so unnatural that he’s not here with Chris and I. I don’t want to go along with the hand we’ve been dealt anymore. I want to swim against the tide that’s pushing us further and further from the life we came so close to having. As painful as it was, I want to go back to the hospital room–the time when I held him in my arms. Even if he wasn’t completely there, he was still there. More importantly, we were there–together. The way it’s suppose to be. Not like this. I just want to go back there and stay for eternity. I don’t spend much time in the nursery these days. What brought me comfort before feels different now. It’s not like I can’t open the door or go in there without shedding tears, because I can. I just don’t want to go in there now. Most of the time it just feels like I’m throwing salt in a wound. For awhile I placed flowers from our garden in a vase on his dresser on a weekly basis. Not so much anymore. As much as I did those things for Ry, a big part of me did those things for me, too. The marker for his grave is now in place. It has a flower and butterfly design on it and includes a vase for flowers. His final resting place is right under a tree and is beside my sisters grave. I hope that she’s watching over him for us. I think about him every day. I hope that he knows that. I hope he can see and hear his dad and I when we tell him we love him. I hope he can feel love when we think of him too.

I hate it when I feel the way I did tonight. And, it always happens in the middle of the night–when I can’t sleep and the rest of the world is in a silent slumber. Here I am. It’s 4:30 am now and I’m still typing away. I was hoping the bright light of the monitor would be enough to make my eyes drowsy. No such luck. I think I’m going to take the other half of that pill now. I thank you for stopping by to hear the string of thoughts balling up in my head. If you’d like to get anything off of your chest, I’d be glad to hear what’s keeping you, too.

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One thought on “What’s keeping you?”

  1. I totally relate to your words. Since we lost Luke and I quickly quit the ambien they gave me at the hospital because I didn’t like it, I have been having to take medication to sleep too and I hate taking medication too. I have been taking generic (Target or Family Dollar brand) diphenhydramine HCI. It says to take 2 pills and I just take 1 and it works. It says non-habit-forming, but I don’t like needing it, so I tried to not take one last night, thinking I was really tired and feeling pretty positive. I fell asleep quickly, but woke up around 3 and was awake forever. So, I guess I still need them. I feel more anxiety at night and laying there in the dark with just my thoughts is scary.

    I also feel the same about returning to work. I am a teacher and summer is over in 4 days. I normally would have been in setting up my classroom by now, but I have not wanted to. I don’t want to go. It is a very stressful and demanding job as yours is and I don’t think I can do it how I used to. I am worried about my performance and stamina like you are. I don’t know how to picture full days of work without chances to think and cry for Luke when I need to. We will just have to do the best we can and be easy on ourselves if it is less than before and hope that our coworkers and bosses are understanding. I kind of don’t care if they don’t. It seems pretty trivial in comparison to the bigger things of life that I am newly aware of.

    You happened to mention two places you might like to go that are both within 1.5 hours of our house–Sedona and the Grand Canyon. (We live in Dewey, just 20 miles outside of Prescott, Arizona.) I know we don’t know each other, but I feel tied to people with similar losses and have enjoyed your blogs. We have a 4-bedroom, 3 bath house with plenty of room for visitors and you would be welcome to use our place as free lodging so you could afford a nice anniversary trip.

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