Last night, I slept with Henry's blanket, the one my grandmother knit, the one we wrapped him in after he died, the one I slept with every night for the first year after he died. I haven't slept with it for a while. It's been tucked at the foot of our bed, unused, but last night I felt the need to curl up with it again.
Yesterday afternoon, I started losing it. I was irritated and angry at Brian for taking more time with a project than he anticipated. I was feeling overwhelmed by work and frustrated that I was stopping to take care of Kathleen while he worked on it. I felt guilty for not enjoying the time with her because I've been feeling like I don't get as much time with her lately. I stepped outside to take her for a walk, and I started blinking back tears.
My neighbor, J., saw me having a hard time. "Take some time," she said. "Take a walk, do what you need to do. Kathleen's fine with us." So I did. I drank some water and blew my nose and walked around the block. I came back borderline composed. She had a visitor, a woman and her son. Her son is three. I thought yesterday that his birthday was the same as Henry's, but I think now that her son was two days younger. I remember J. running into this woman in labor when she came to visit me as I waited to be discharged. I remember meeting this woman at the baby group and putting that together. She introduced herself, and I told her my name and started to say, "We've met" and she overlapped with "at the baby group." I don't know if she knows Henry died. I'm guessing she does because she didn't ask about him. We talked about due dates and waiting to find out if you're having a boy or girl (she's pregnant again too), but all the while I was half watching her son, knowing I should have a three-year old.
"Everything is okay."
This is the right thing to say immediately upon walking in the door when you have gone to an OB appointment and come back crying.
It is true everything is okay, or if it's not I don't know it. I didn't actually see my doctor today. I drove the 40 minutes or so down there, found parking, waddled, back aching into the office, tried to check in. And they told me my appointment is tomorrow, which I know it wasn't. I insisted that my appointment was supposed to be today, and then I burst into tears, because I have better things to do than waste an hour and a half going to a non-existent appointment, only to do it all again tomorrow. They told me they could probably squeeze me in this afternoon, but somehow driving home and then driving back this afternoon felt worse than just going back tomorrow. I drove home crying and cursing and knowing that I should really calm down.
I've been stressed and overwhelmed lately, trying to get my work done, trying to get ready for this baby, trying to spend time with Kathleen, trying to enjoy the fall. This wasted trip didn't help. It also doesn't help that simply driving to my appointments galls me. Spending 40 minutes in the car each way, when if I went to my first practice I'd spend 30 minutes total getting to and from my appointments irritates me. It's one more reminder that my baby was born sick, that I don't have enough trust to deliver in a hospital without a NICU.
I messaged a friend about my woes, and she said it must be hard with my memories this time of year and pregnancy hormones and anticipation/anxiety about the next couple of months. I was strangely relieved to have her put all that together. This time of year is more stressful than I realize. I'm not constantly replaying the memories of Henry in the hospital, but it's there. That's what this time of year is for me now. This pregnancy is easier in many ways than my last, but I still dread going to appointments, worried what we might discover. I've resigned myself to my scheduled date, but in the back of my head I see myself lying in my hospital bed on December 17, images of another wing, another floor, another bed with a little, still body in it. Throw hormones into that mix, and I'm a mess waiting to happen.
When I was pregnant with Henry, I was the master of letting go. Before I got pregnant I overdid all the time. I made long lists and made sure I finished them. When I was pregnant with Henry, I threw them out, or I made lists and then looked at them and realized that I didn't need to do most of the things on them and I let them go. I rested when I was tired. I took care of myself, and I let go of expectations—mine or anyone else's.
I'd like to do that again, but I can't quite seem to get there. So I get stressed and I meltdown and I hate feeling so out of control. This is where I am right now—taking deep breaths, trying not to let it all get to me.
I came home from my non-appointment, too irritated to focus on work, so I sorted papers to clean up my office. While I did, Brian put Kathleen into her Halloween costume for the first time and she walked around the house roaring. And I couldn't help but smile. I need more of this.