My last post was REALLY depressing!
It's fine. I get it. It's hard to read about this stuff. Nobody's yelling at me so I don't know why I'm apologizing. This blog used to be titled "The Adventures of C+J." I'm sure some of you remember that. It was full of college adventures, engagement stories, and newlywed bliss. Haven't been around that long? Don't worry--it's all here. I remember changing the name after we lost Ellie and replanted ourselves at the beach. The title of this place felt too light hearted. Too playful. Too upbeat to contain what would become a record of the hardest moments of our life and our marriage and our family. So I named it Tates at Sea so everyone would know that our little family ship was adrift in the sea that is life and soon our family of 3 minus 1 would grow by a healthy baby girl (cue the 20 week ultrasound) and, oh crap, our boat is sinking. Throw us all the floatation devices.
I'm just kidding.
But am I kidding?
I suppose my reason for bringing it up is that I have neglected this space for a couple of reasons that I need to flesh out.
The first is that I've been fine tuning the book. And that's a totally awesome excuse that needs no follow up. Book writing is intense! And also emotional! And some days I don't feel strong enough to edit back through tough memories. So there's that.
The second is that I have felt this *imagined* pressure to steer myself back to the fun-loving, sassy, bubbly writer I once was, and I guess a part of me was holding out hope that things would magically click back into place. And maybe they will.
But they probably won't. Because I am so incredibly different than I was 2 years ago. And I am unrecognizably different than I was 3 years ago. My thoughts, my emotions, my heart..it's all different. And it's good different.
It's very good.
It's good because I experienced a lot of pain in a very short span of time and then I experienced a lot of JOY in the sort of way that is surprising and disrupting and amazing. I went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs as I held my miracle baby boy in a hotel 8 hours from home and experienced what it feels like to have a miraculous prayer answered quickly.
I don't care so much about seeking out adventure because INSANE adventure was handed to me and I held on for dear life and now sometimes I just want to sit on my couch and stare at the wall and send my friends weird snapchats. Snapchat is the real adventure.
A couple of weeks ago I attempted to record a video about infant loss/infertility related stuff because I was having a really tough moment and talking to a camera seemed like a good thing to do? I don't know. Chris was at work. Guys. I cope in weird ways.
But the point is I wrestled with the idea of even talking about it out loud to a camera in my room because I feel like the grief and mourning I am experiencing right now is the kind of grief that people talk about less. It's been over a year since baby two passed away. And we have another baby now. Things should feel normal, right?
The year mark with Ellie was when I was wrestling with some really tough stuff. But I was pregnant again with Elsie (and didn't know anything was wrong) and so to the world it seemed like I was on my journey to happy. But I wasn't. I was excited (read scared) about this second pregnancy but I was also feeling the natural "moving on" of the world around me. The first few months after Ellie were full of phone calls and texts and emails and cards and kind gestures and don't get me wrong--I certainly did not want that level of contact to become the norm. But sometimes it's hard to remember that when the year mark hits--people are in an entirely different stage of life and the phrase "time heals" is so popular that most probably assume that a new chapter of healing has come to stay.
But the year mark is a really lonely time. It's lonely because it's when you realize you really are going to be doing life without your baby. It can all seem terribly surreal from the time of death through the funeral and for those first few months. But the weight of reality sinks heavier each month that passes after that. It's almost like one big "what just happened!?" kind of a feeling hits you and then doesn't leave and then you learn you have to process this thing all over again except in a different way...this time you have to sort through the loneliness and the ache and the realization that one year has passed but there are so many more that will pass without them.
How many more of their birthdays do I have to get through? Wait--all of them? ALL of them!?
There is a part of you that wants to believe the loss is temporary, even though that makes no sense at all.
In fact, maybe none of this makes sense at all because that's the thing about loss..it's different for everyone.
But what I said to the camera is this: I *think* it's common to feel this way a year..two years..three years into this thing. Our society does not do grief well. We are the kings and queens of the quick-fix and our solution-oriented culture tempts us to believe there is a way to walk from sadness to happiness quickly if we just follow these steps.
But there is also that infertility related sadness that has come where I KNOW that if things were different I would be at least wanting to think about the possibility of getting pregnant again. But that option is out. There is a whole new wave of people announcing pregnancies because their youngest child is somewhere around that 1 year old mark. I am not naive enough to believe this is the case with the majority of people--but it seems that there is a sort of natural progression for many, and I get it and I wish I could experience what that is all like.
Because it's hard to know how our family will expand and how much money we will have to raise and how long we will wait and etc and etc etc etc.
And I'm not ready for the paperwork and the homestudy and the rollercoaster of being presented and, guys, I just want to sleep with my man and have a healthy baby appear in my womb. I mean...right!? Isn't that how it's supposed to work?
Yes. The answer is yes.
So I guess the point of all of this is to say that I'm a year and a half out from loss number 2 and it is still very raw and very hard and very different than it was before and it's hard to describe with words.
I'm not declaring the struggle for sympathy or phone calls or mail...I'm declaring the struggle so that you know if you read this and you've felt this way or are feeling this way that you are normal and nothing is wrong with you.
Culture..strangers..friends..maybe even family might make you feel like it's time to get a handle on it. But I'm telling you you can find people who get it and you can find friends who understand and who won't judge you when you cry because you miss your kids after a year and a half. I mean. Come on.
I will always say that I believe there are healthy and unhealthy ways to cope..I never ever want grief to be a reason to develop bad habits that lead to destruction. But grief in and of itself is not a problem. Grief is really really painful and really really normal.
Did ya hear that? It's normal. You're normal. You're not dramatic and you're not needy and you're not a burden.
You're just dealing with some hard sH*t.