Tuesday, April 12, 2005

You Thought I Felt Sorry For Myself Before? You Ain't Seen Nuthin' Yet

Stuff has been bothering me recently, and I have decided to go into counseling and deal with it. Specifically, I am having a difficult time letting go of my anger over Peanut's medical problems. I cannot seem to get over the grief I feel for my lost expectations of her life. This is affecting large portions of my life and my relationships. My husband and I are having a hard time getting along. I have virtually ignored some of my friends with healthy children, and am having a very difficult time being around the few I still see regularly. I feel like I have nothing in common with them anymore, and seeing their beautiful children walking and having a normal life is like a knife in the heart every day. My world has devolved into an obsession with disability politics, support groups, and medical journals.

Maybe this is normal. Maybe this is to be expected. That doesn't mean I have to like it. I don't want to limit myself to having as friends only people who know firsthand what I have been through, who have watched their baby wake up screaming after general anesthesia, who have spent time wondering if they'll even live, much less have some semblance of a normal life. I don't want to hurt people I love, to miss their children growing up.

I was reading the last few posts at Chez Miscarriage about infertile women not being comfortable sharing in the joy of others' healthy and easy conceptions and pregnancies. I never felt like that. Maybe it was because I didn't have to go through as much effort to get pregnant, just time. One of my dearest friends got pregnant the first month she tried, and while I was envious I didn't have any trouble hearing about it. I know I'm in the minority having fertility problems, and felt if I went around getting upset at people who had it easy that way I would be upset all the time. But here I am, with that anger I didn't feel during pregnancy, now aimed at people who did what the vast majority of women do, which is give birth to a healthy baby.

I am not surrounded by inconsiderate people. To the contrary, every single one of my friends has been wonderful to me. Some have been exceedingly supportive, there with me whenever I needed them. Some have treated me pretty much the same as always, so I could have someone to talk to when I didn't want to talk about anything related to Peanut's situation. So I don't know why it is that I feel so cut off from them now. I hate this. My friends should be able to share how well their kids are doing with me. I have always thought one of the great joys of having kids is being able to brag about them to other people who love them. It isn't like I don't (Despite what you see in that last picture, she can eat with a spoon now, and fairly well when she decides to. And she's made up her own signs to tell me she is hungry!). I feel like I am being horribly selfish, like I am asking others to walk on eggshells if they want to be my friend. How can I call myself a friend when I can't allow them to share the most important part of their lives with me? And my poor husband. I feel like I have nothing else to talk about with him, and I expect him to always be strong for me, because I have no strength left for anyone else.

So that's why I am going to get the counseling. It has been suggested that maybe I'm being too hard on myself. It is possible. All I know is that I need to let go of this and move on. This has happened to my family. It is still happening to my family. That doesn't mean it has to define me. It doesn't mean that it is all that I am, that it is all my daughter is. That is the place I want to be, I just need some help getting there.


Jen said...

I'm so sorry Carrie. I think the counseling will help, maybe even help you understand that what you feel is normal.
I remember sitting in a room full of family that all had multiple children of their own, and 3 of the women were currently pregnant. I had just had my 3rd miscarriage just 3 months earlier, and I couldn't even sit there without crying and feeling so utterly barren. It's not that they were "rubbing it in" that they had children and I did not, but god knows I felt like shit.

You and T have got to find other things to talk about than Peanut and his work. It can consume you, and it is not an easy hole to dig yourself out of. Try to remember what you guys used to talk about for the years you were married before you were even pregnant with Peanut. It is so much harder on you since T is not there much during the week, and the only communication occurs over the phone. I really hope that you are letting your mom watch Peanut for a few hours at least 2 nights a month, giving you and T time to yourselves. It is hard to have an intimate conversation while trying to clean oatmeal of your baby's face and worrying about laundry, bathtime, and when she last had her meds. YOU HAVE GOT TO GIVE YOURSELF DOWN TIME.

michelle said...

Good luck! I'm sure the counseling will help you out. Let us know how it goes. We'll all be thinking about you!

Julia R said...

It is so hard. I know, I've been there. And although I continue to struggle it has gotten easier now 6 years down the road.

As far as your own feelings I consider them normal. Sadly, unless you work through them and face them, you'll isolate yourself, stay miserable and that isn't good for you or Peanut either - happier Mommy the better.

It is hard to raise healthy, developementally on track kids on the best of days. So when you add special needs to that mix, well, it's just enormous sometimes. Some days I'm just pissed about that and that is normal too.

Like you, I have wonderful friends who support me. For me it got easier (to be around healthy kids) over time, but being sad has never gone away. For me, it looms. Not in an in-my-face-everday kind of way though. I work very hard to celebrate (and communicate) everything good that is happening with the kids...milestones reached, stable labs, etc...and I found friends that celebrate those with me. And that makes it easier to handle their good news as well.
(it didn't hurt that I threw away all baby developement books)

As far as T...well. As a couple hubby and I are still a work in progress dealing with everything. I've learned we have extremely different ways of dealing with what has happened. And we've talked about that. Our need to grieve differently - me talking - him not. And we've met somewhere in the middle of that. We've come to the conculsion that our family life is defined by the kids' syndrome, but it isn't everything. We still have to have normal expereiences and we work hard to make that happen.

We make time for each other, as hard as it is, we must. We're at a place where we find humor in our situation (I could go on and on about this...but for your sake won't - I'm not sure other people don't find these things funny).

This is not the normal we dreamed of. But it is the normal we now know. I've said that we have merged our old dreams with our new hopes and we've ended up in a pretty okay place.

I hope you will too. I wish you peace.

PS - sorry to ramble on.

Mommy said...

Hi Carrie....
I can't offer advice...i can't offer much. I just wanted to tell you that your post really touched me. You seem amazing and strong, whether you see it or not.
I hope therapy can help you heal.

elswhere said...

Hey Carrie--I've been awed at the generosity and understanding of your posts here and your comments on other blogs, in the way you write about dealing with people (like me) who don't have a kid with disabilities. I echo Rae-- you seem amazing and strong. And wise and large-hearted--not selfish at all; smart, to seek out help and to be so eloquent about your emotions.

Dana said...

I just wanted you to know that I love you and that whatever you need I am here...you are a strong lady, alot stronger I think than what you give yourself credit for

Anonymous said...

She's right, you know.

Carlos in Brooklyn

Anonymous said...

Well Carrie - you know me...truth right between the eyes. So forgive me for owies and love me for loving you.

You have chosen to post this publicly instead of relying on those "good friends" you are refering to in the blog. So, as one of the two you got baby I'll answer where you posted.

I don't think you are being too hard on yourself. You are being just right. You should smack yourself between the eyes right about now because...You are wallowing instead of being the proactive Carrie I know and love.

My husband beat the shit out of me in front of my children. On the first weekend the court ordered me to release them to him unsupervised I came to you terrified alone, frightened my children would not be returned or as it turned out returned a mess. I fell asleep in your home out of shear emotional exhaustion. You know what you said to me? "Get up! If you're just going to wallow then you can do that yourself. You have friends, its hard, but I won't spend time with you this way so get up!"

So, Carrie - I love you. I love Tad (who by the way isn't a "poor husband" He has done his share of shit to give you stress lately too.). I love your beautiful daughter. SOOO!!! If you don't want to stand up. Then hand her over. My life stopped ten years ago and it's pretty too late now. My children have scars as big as yours and they can't be rubbed or helped or even healed all the way. But, they are happy and healthy just like your daughter.

She has a mama, a daddy, a loving safe home. She has a God who loves her and put her where she'd be safe. She has an Aunt Dana - who may not always make perfect sense but she is the biggest hearted lover ever. And she has an Aunt Kimberly to teach her if you'll let her, how to NOT be the crip. How to be okay no matter what.

So Carrie, come get a hug, an ass whooping or whatever you need from the people that love you. Save your money from therapy and go with us to the Bahamas. Get some real therapy! LOL I love you.

Anonymous said...

oops didn't mean to be anonymous...you know it's kimberly right? LOL

Carrie's Mom (and damn proud of it) said...

And the truth is somewhere in between.
Last week, I sat with Peanut in the back yard of your house. She got bored watching the dog, so I carried her over to the garden, to the little birdhouse condo. Then I knelt down and "stood" her on the grass, letting her reach towards the hyacinths so she could smell their sweetness. She plucked a blossom and was delighted with herself. I burst into tears.
I remembered what you'd told me earlier in the week about how hard it was to be at the playground with all the other children Peanut's age running around and as I held her there, just the tips of her tiny toes peeking out of a cast but still tickled by the grass, I cried for your pain. I wish what all mothers wish - that I could always fix the hurt. You, remember, are MY Peanut. We always think we ought to be able to - thus your guilt over feeling grief and your concern over T. The hardest thing ever is realizing that you can't fix it all the time.
When I'd dried my eyes and wiped my nose, I said a silent prayer. Not that Peanut be miraculously delivered of this but that we be given the strength to help her through it.
Don't tell B., but one of the reasons I married him was because of his attitude towards Peanut (the treehousde was his idea)and his determination that we'd always do everything in our power to help he It was also his idea to include her in our "Children's Vow".
You have the genes of generations of emotionally tough people who dealt with horrendous events in their lifetimes. Therapy is a good idea if YOU think it is. And lets take Peanut to her Great-great-great G'pa's chapel soon.

Zelda said...

I'm sorry you're having a rough time. If there is anything Bao or I can do, please let us know. And if you ever make it back to Houston, Gwennie and Emma are just waiting to pounce on Peanut and make her their queen. They might even have a throne all set up.

La Lucuma said...

Carrie, You've gotten some good advice and support from your friends, but I wanted you to know that I'm feeling for you too. I hope counseling helps--I'm about ready to go back to it myself. Even having a healthy baby is stressful (of course, he never sleeps, so that could be what is causing me to feel totally psycho), and it's having a crappy effect on my marriage. So even though I don't know exactly what you're going through, I understand the emotions that are pulling you through it. Best of luck and big hugs from another mom.