Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hand Me Down

It took about 12 days for me to begin to eat and walk around like a normal person again, but thankfully I'm there now. Maybe the some-random-stomach-virus theory is going pan out after all! But even though I feel functional now (despite having caught Big A's chest cold last week), I still have some sporadic abdominal and pelvic pain. So, I'm going ahead with pursuing the might-be-endometriosis theory with my gynecologist. Endo frightens me because of the cyclical nature of it -- the idea that I might regularly be in as much pain as I was two weeks ago makes me shake and cross myself. On the other hand, if I have another attack that starts just as period begins, at least the mystery will be solved, and we could finally make a real stab at treatment.

I have been feeling on edge and punk in the past month, but given the mystery illness, that wasn't terribly surprising. But it occurred to me that most of the anxiety focused around Little A. Since we are also sorting out her health issues at this time, I figured maybe that was also normal. Still, I didn't understand the intensity of my freakouts. Little A has been doing well on her new meds and there really isn't much reason to be anything other than optimistic about what lies in store for her. So why was my heart hurting so much whenever my little girl toddled by?

While folding laundry the other day I finally figured it out: This black mood had started the day I took the bin of 2T and 24-month clothes out of the garage and incorporated them into Little A's general wardrobe. It's those clothes. The ones Big A wore three years ago when I was pregnant with my angel baby.

I have a hand-me-down hangover.

Who knew that such strong anxiety and grief could imprint on little dresses and pants? There is one particular outfit that looks adorable on Little A (much as it did on her big sister) but every time she flits by wearing it, I'm hit with the knowledge that this was the play dress Big A wore on Christmas 2005, which was just two days after my pregnancy termination. It was all I could do to keep from hurling myself out the picture window that day, and most of the events of that time are thankfully lost to the fog of despair and vicoden. But oh, that dress -- that I remember all too well.

It pisses me off! Not only because Little A looks so adorable in it, but because now that I'm a SAHM, my budget doesn't allow for me going out and buying an equal-but-different dress for Little A. So I'm in a conundrum: do I suck it up and deal with the sadness over seeing the clothes again, or do I donate the old clothes, and hope that people give Little A outfits for Christmas?

Strange and arbitrary. That's what grief is three years after a loss.


Mary said...


Haven't yet commented, but have read your blog for ages since you posted it first on our message board. (It's Mary! Waves HI.)

This post especially resonates with me. August was three years for me and while I don't have the same trigger as you do with the clothes, I do have one I can't avoid: The heat. I had an exceptionally long wait between our "could possibly have" conversation with our doctor and our final diagnosis, more than 2 months later. The months of June, July and August where I live in South Florida are notably oppressivly hot and humid and now each subsequent summer every time I step outside, I'm hit not just with the oven-like sensation of leaving my sweet sweet airconditioning, I'm smacked dead on with actual physical memories of waiting and wondering and pre-grieving. In the past, I've actually described it as a "grief hangover". (Sound familiar?)

I'm not sure new clothes will be an answer to these feelings, though for sure that one outfit you write about needs to go. If it were me, I'd be struck not just with the clothing, but with the age similarities between big and little A, along with the time of year you are in. (Anniversaries tend to hit me BEFORE the date, as opposed on the date. But that's just me.)

Whatever you do, know that there are many of us that know exactly what you're going through and feeling. I hope that either the repetition of seeing little A in them eventually erases the memories associated with them or at least the gut punch you get eases with time.

XOXO, Mary

Wabi said...

Mary! I'm so glad you finally delurked! (Picture me waving wildly in your direction here.) Happy belated bday to your little guy!

I do think you are right about it not being JUST the clothes. As you mentioned, it's the whole season. My limbo time between finding out that there might be a problem with the baby and then confirming it with the amnio and going forward with the tx started right after Thanksgiving and ended the day before Xmas Eve. So this time of year is always going to be extra complicated. It just caught me by surprise this year, because I was feeling pretty light and free up until now.

And can I just say that I shivered when you said you had TWO MONTHS of limbo time with your AHC pregnancy? Three weeks of limbo pretty well cracked me, so I can't imagine what you went through for all those months.

Mary said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to de-lurk. I usually read and nod my head vigorously or empathize greatly with everything you write but I am a lazy lazy reader. (In other words, I take and take and never give! I'll be better behaved from now on. smiles)

Yeah, I found out I was a carrier for the disease for which we terminated at my 2nd prenatal appt the first week of June. Then had to wait to get DH's blood work results, then wait for the amnio at week 16 in July, then another 4 week wait for results to arrive on Aug 12. Really crappy way to spend a summer, all while I was getting bigger and falling in love with my little one and fielding all sorts of well meaning questions and normal pg related crap coming from all corners.

I totally get the being caught by surprise thing. This summer, I really thought I was past that as well. I thought I was too busy with life and too far from it to have it be an issue. I think simply because I was so far into this journey and so (for lack of a better word) HEALTHY about it all, I wasn't expecting that same old gut check. "What the hey? Why are YOU back, helpless old feelings? I'm BETTER now!" (Yeah, right.) Anyway, enough inner monologue from my cluttered mind.

Thanks for the birthday wishes for little man J. How did he get to be two? He'll tell you too. He's "teeeee-oooooooo" with his fingers up. I cannot squeeze that little dude enough these days. It is indeed a Wabi Sabi life we lead now, isn't it?

XOXO, Mary

Julia said...

I think we all have triggers, and while they may be different, the result is pretty much the same-- unexpected gloom, heaviness, aka fun times.
I am sorry you got blindsided by the clothes. Are you feeling any better now that you figured it out? Sometimes for me it works that way-- naming my anxiety helps me tame it.

Wabi said...

Oh yeah, Mary. I know what you mean about stealing the hugs when you can. I do that too.

And Julia, I think figuring it out did help some. But what helped MORE was finally getting a long-forgotten rebate for my cell phone. I took part of that windfall and bought several cute new outfits for Little A. That allowed me to give away the two old dresses that bothered me the most and still have a couple nice things for her to wear for holidays and the swarm of family birthdays that fall in December.

I realize that thinking it through and writing about it should be the thing that pulls me down the road toward coping better. But in this case, a $50 prepaid VISA card and a trip to Target did the trick!