Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pregnant Grief

I do not have an overly emotional nature. I am the girl who would rather laugh than cry and often will find a joke to drive away tears. I don't think being sensitive is one of the talents I was given at birth. I have to remind myself lately of what I am "normally" like because I haven't really been myself for the past nearly 5 months now. 

In the beginning I just cried so much and so often. The pain was so fresh and the grief so overwhelming. There seemed to be an unending stream of tears for me to cry. As I have grown stronger and borne this grief with more stability, I have pregnancy hormones to negotiate. 

In so many ways this pregnancy has been healing already. It has given me hope and purpose and physical pain to focus my mind. But, sometimes it is just hard to be grieving and hormonal. I can tell there is an extra layer of emotion added to my otherwise "normal" grieving emotion. 

I love to sing. I haven't been able to sing since Camille died. I still can't get through a church hymn. Even many children's songs are just too hard to get out. I used to sing my children the song "I Wonder When He Comes Again" when I put them to bed. I haven't been able to sing it since. 

I just am nearly always in tears just beneath the surface. It takes so little to tear through that outer layer and let the waters rush out. It isn't that I hate crying. But really, I think my Grandma Bunker said a wise thing on her death bed. 

Grandma had liver cancer. It progressed extremely quickly once she was diagnosed. The doctors had given her 6 months to a year to live. The third week after her diagnosis she went from doing fine to being bed ridden and unable to eat much. All her internal organs were shutting down. My parents were out of town with my little brothers. My older sister and brother and I went to visit her after not seeing her for a day or two.

The change in her was dramatic and scary for us at ages 13, 15 and 18. She was almost unrecognizable compared to how she had looked just two days earlier. This was a grandma who lived close to us and was in many ways a second mother to us. Walking into her bedroom we knew she would not be with us much longer. The tears just fell and they fell in abundance. None of us could speak. 

Well none of us except for Grandma. She told us over and over and over that she loved us. I think that is how I knew she would die very soon. It was the last thing she wanted us to know and she wanted to burn it into our consciousness. "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you." It made its mark. I have never doubted that love that I know never dies.

As we were there, holding her hands and sobbing at her sides, Grandma imparted a final bit of wisdom that has stayed with me since. "You know you can get all weepy and cry about this but all that does is give you a stuffy nose and a headache." She died that night in the middle of the night while my parents were on a flight home.

Well I have had about a decades worth of stuffy noses and headaches these last 5 months. There are benefits from this emotional shift. I do think I am more sensitive and compassionate. But I hope there comes a day after the baby is born and those postpartum hormones have worn off, that I can stop taking Tylenol regularly and sing again.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love to sing. It is a wonderful thing. Earlier today I was reading another blog at leslieandaaron.blogspot.com and she was talking about not being able to sing after losing her husband. I think it might do you some good to ready her post. Hope it helps you.
You are in my thoughts and always in my prayers.

Lisa

Peggy said...

I hope you can too.

Davis family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Schwartz Family said...

I hope you are able to sing again too. I love reading your blog!

Marleen said...

I hope you do too. I love your voice.

Melissa-Mc said...

I cry about once a year when I'm not pregnant and many times daily when I am pregnant. And that is without any major trials. Hang in there.

Jennie said...

I hope you will be able to sing again soon. After hearing your lovely song, with your husband, I think you will find your voice again. It is natural to go back to those things you enjoy, when the time is right. I pray that time will come sooner rather than later for you. I hope that your burdens may by lifted by others prayers for you.

Whitney said...

I gave you an award on my blog today. It’s really just a chance to let you know I like your blog and point other readers in your direction. Thanks for sharing your experience with me.

Rebecca said...

I sometimes cry when I sing certain songs and my trials in life are nothing compared to what you are feeling. Hang in there. I am sure you will be able to sing again soon.

Rebecca

Melissa O said...

I believe it will happen. Stay strong.

Heidi said...

Oh, that "I love you. I love you. I love you..." totally got me.

And I hadn't thought about the singing. I hope you can sing again soon, too.

Erin said...

I, too, love to sing. But those of us who do love to sing...we feel the song more than hear it and sometimes those feeling are so overwhelming. There are certain songs on the radio I can't sing the whole way through because I end up in tears, whether is be the power of the voice or the words. But remember through it all, singing is soooo healing. Push through the tears and keep singing.... soon you will be singing as you once did.

Angie said...

Oh my goodness your story brought back so many memories for me. My grandma--who lived around the corner from me my whole life and was very much like a second mother to my sisters and I--died of liver cancer as well. I very clearly remember walking into her bedroom and being with her just hours before her death. And of course my grandma also left me with numerous peices of advice, both in word and in action. Small world.

Shanan said...

Just have Jon jazz up I Wonder When He Comes Again on the piano ... the dancing your girlies will do along side his playing will be sure to put a smile on your face! ;)

Our thoughts and prayers are still with you and your family, Steph. Much love.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing that memory. My grandma was in many ways like a first mother to me. I still cry when I think of her. I have a similar memory of my last visit with her. She let me know she loved me, and of course I already knew that. I hope someday when I'm the Grandma I can be as gracious and loving.

Becky said...

I want you to know you do not cry alone. Each time I check in on your blog I scroll down to read your words and catch the picture of Camille out of the corner of my eye I feel a stabbing pain in my gut that, in conjunction with your words, generally evolves into tears. You see my nephew, Devin, drowned a few months before Camille did. He was just barely two years old. It is still a very raw wound for me and my family. I am sure in time it will heal but for now it still aches. I know you don't know me but but I want you to know that I feel a sort of kinship and love for you and your family. I think you you and your girls often. I don't know if it helps but know that love is being sent to you from a stranger who has felt a small fraction your your pain.

Sincerely,
Becky

Anonymous said...

Just sending love and hugs.

Jane

Davis family said...

I am sorry about my comment yesterday. I thought about it all evening. I didn't sound very compassionate or loving. I am so sorry. I have never been through what you are going through. I have been pregnant many times, and have cried many more times due to that pregnancy or post partum hormone problem we seem to have. I pray for you daily and think of you often. I pray the Lord will bless you with the comfort you desire, and also the ability to sing to your girls.

The Summerhays Crew said...

Random question: whats your maiden name? I saw that you had a Grandma Bunker and I my mom's maiden name is Bunker and have lots of Bunker family so I was just curious! Also, You talk about your husband working from home. My husband works from home quite a bit and it seems like it throws of my day and schedule and we always argue more when he is here all day long. Any tips??

Susy said...

You will sing again.. for the Lord loves a song!
Thank you for the post of your Grandmother, It reminded me of my Father before he died he would always grab my hand when I walked into my parents home and he would say I love you baby girl.. I was his youngest daughter. I too never doubted his love nor do I now!

The White Clan said...

I am going through some issues of a completly differnent nature right now, and my mom told me today that "years from now I will look back and the only thing I would change, is the fact that I wouldn't cry as much." I know that that might not be the case for you, but I agree with her. I know that all of our challenges will make us stronger. And that our Heavenly Father knows us, and even through the hard and unbearable times, he is with us, to lighten our load.
Thanks for your blog and your inspiring words, and also congratulations on your pregnancy.

Maggie May said...

I hope so too.

My old friend lost her son Jordan at age 19. She was also deeply religious and loved hymns and to sing, and she also found she could not sing or hear music without weeping after Jordan died. Your body and spirit are working overtime to try and understand what has happened.
It is a gradual realization, like a gradual healing that occurs after a severe burn. The ongoing nature of grief is so exhausting. I hope you are being as patient with yourself as you can :) and surrounded with love and support. I am saying a prayer for you and Camille.

Anonymous said...

You should have let yourself properly grieve your daughter before you decided to bring another life to this world. You will most likely delete this comment, people will most likely prosecute me for this message....but you should have WAITED to be pregnant again...to open yourself up to this emotional, stressful time again...Shame on your husband for not protecting your sensitive state better. I am certain this will be a wonderful, beautiful child, however he/she's existence on this earth could have waited til you were more ready to bear him/her.

Kim said...

Your grandma sounds like she was a wise woman...what strength. No matter what though, tears are sometimes the only thing we have, and a good cry is cleansing. Hoping you get feeling better physically...soon.

Stephanie said...

Dear Anonymous,
Wow. I am rather amazed at the confidence you seem to have in your judgement of someone you don't know. And based on your opinion it is obvious you do not know me.

This pregnancy has been the single most healing thing I have done since losing Camille. I have never been more ready for a baby in my life.

Perhaps you get the impression from my blog that I am some wilting flower who is dying and needs to complete the cycle of death before rebirth can take place. Yeah, that is not really me. And grieving hasn't worked that way for me. I am a woman of strength and faith. I will be grieving my daughter's death for the rest of my life to some degree. But I know my daughter would not have me be depressed living in a fallow field when there is joy to be had in this life for me yet.

This little "peanut" growing within me has brought me purpose and joy. Like all pregnancies it has heightened all my emotions. But my grieving emotions are not so intense that they pull me down to depression, even with the pregnancy hormones.

And there is no one more sensitive to my needs and emotions than my husband is. You see, he actually knows me. And he knows me better than anyone. He takes care of me and is patient and loving with me. He is the one who takes over when I need to nap or have a good cry. There is no shame in how he has fulfilled his role as husband. You can keep your shame. For him there is only honor.

Sending you love whoever you are,
Stephanie

Chelsa said...

i love that... what great wisdom

Maggie May said...

Stephanie in my opinion you don't ever have to feel that you need to explain yourself to someone who anonymously, therefore cowardly, questions the deepest life choices of a person they barely know.

Take our love and leave the other crap behind. xo

Katie Price said...

You don't know me, but I am also pregnant, just about as far along as you are. As I deal with the abnormal hormones and worry that pregnancy brings me, I can't imagine dealing with the grief you do on top of it. I am usually a pretty rational person, but you add pregnancy in and things get real irrational real fast:). I respect your strength very very much.

And it is obvious that your husband adores you. As someone who is also adored by her husband, I am so glad that in dealing with grief you have that wall to lean on.

Praying for you and your family.