Interior Monologue


I have an interior monologue when I sit down to write.

When I write about grieving, my senses are heightened. What do I want to say?  Have I said this before?  Am I churning through the same moments, over and over?  Will anyone want to read this?  Do I care if anyone reads this?

When I write about our day-to-day life, I try to think about what I want to capture: a combination of the “ordinary” moments and the “special” moments. I know that likely my kids will read it someday, so there is a mix of honesty and respect for their lives. And respect for my husband.

I often formulate the words in my head in advance. I cannot always capture them because they will come to me at in-opportune times, like in the car or almost asleep.  Sometimes I regret the words that escape before I have had a chance to record them. I have taken to writing on my phone, therefore always with me.

I think about the audience. I mull over in my head the reactions.  How my pain might trigger another’s pain.  How my pain might be shared. How others may not understand my pain.  The writing is for me, my expression, but I am sensitive to its impact.

I am conscious of my style. I often write in parallels, taking a single thought and repeating it or expanding upon it.  It helps me to process. When I write about my day, I am more apt to write conversationally or informally.

Much of my writing is intentional. The words are carefully selected.  I have a conversation with myself about the permanence of a public forum.  It brings both a release in the embrace and empathy from others, and a limitation in what I choose to keep private.

Five Memories and Now

Photos reveal the changes of the past year.

May 2, 2015:  I attended a Kentucky Derby “High Tea” with some friends.  I was actually pregnant, but it was too early to have a positive at-home test. But I suspected that I might be.  I did not drink any alcohol at the tea, prompting one of my friends to ask “Are you pregnant??”  To which I responded “No, no, no.”  A few days later, I was able to give her a different answer.

June 22, 2015: Family vacation in Hawaii to celebrate my uncles’ marriage.  I was about 10 weeks pregnant and had horrible morning sickness.  Sometimes I had to cut activities short due to the combination of vomiting and fatigue.  We announced that we were having a girl on this trip.

October 17, 2015: To celebrate my birthday, we went to see Blue Man Group. This was about 6 weeks after we lost Nelle. I can see the pain in my face.

December 27, 2015: With my grandma, my dad, and my kids – four generations.  I was about 9 weeks pregnant with Iris.  I was excited and terrified.

April 1, 2016: Family vacation in Arizona. About six weeks after we lost Iris.  The last day of my 30-day Grief Writing course was the first day of vacation, so I was feeling a bit lost.

And now.  Nearly eight months after losing Nelle.  Two and a half months after losing Iris.  In a holding pattern for at least four more months.  Six weeks after starting hot yoga. Still not completely back to pre-pregnancy weight, but close.  Weaning off of anti-depressants.  Still in therapy.  Still relying on writing to deal with my grief.

My family is prevalent throughout the photos.  They surround me.

Borrowed Time

Of course time is running out. It always
has been a creek heading east, the freight
of water with its surprising heaviness
following the slant of the land, its destiny.

-Jim Harrison

4:30 a.m.  I am awake. I thought I heard a kid knocking at the door. Then I thought I heard them talking in their room.  Both figments of my sleepy stupor. I only hear the morning birds.  After half an hour, I took a bath. The hot, soothing water could maybe lure me back into dreamland. If not, it was some time to myself. The moments in the morning before the kids wake up is borrowed time.

After being on my feet for several full days last week, an uncommon occurrence for me, my back has been sore. I did several days of yoga but that seems to have exacerbated the problem.  I am reminded that as much as I enjoy and appreciate getting older, for the respect that it earns me in my insustry and for my experiences in life, my body will get older as well. Mind and body will not always be in sync.  This time with my body is borrowed time.
With a still-aching back, I debated yoga today.  Will it help or hurt at this point?  The 90-minute class would also distract from other things I need to work on.  That time to myself, to focus, balance, and meditate, is borrowed time.
I called Quentin my “little man” yesterday. He replied “Why did you call me that?  I don’t look like a man.”  At 4-years-old, I have noticed the developing sophistication of his speech. The time with my young kids is borrowed time.
My pregnancies with Nelle and Iris were borrowed time.  A fleeting passage of first five, then four months with them. Neither time did I truly expect that it would be so short or have an ending so abrupt.
Medication gives me borrowed time.  Time where I do not have to fully feel.
This spring and summer have been a holding pattern.  Grieving stretched into longer and brighter days, waiting.  Will I suffer loss again, or will I be spared?  I inch toward my due date in July, knowing I will have nothing to offset the sadness.  I fill the time with tasks, trying to bring order to my life, if only for a short while. I am knowingly operating on borrowed time.
My grieving is borrowed time.  I may always grieve my losses, but the shape of it will change.  Inconceivable now, but I may need to make space in my life to grieve others that I have loved.
The bell will eventually sound. A light, sweet tone – ding – and then the time is up.

What Was Happening

I didn’t know what was happening at the time, at least not for sure.

I broke down and bought an at-home baby heart monitor around 15 weeks pregnant with Iris.  I debated a long time. At my 12 week prenatal visit, a heartbeat could not be found right away and the stress was unbearable. But an ultrasound found the heartbeat a few minutes later, ticking away, nice and strong. In between the appointments though, almost constant,  frantic palpitations of my own heart, with little to soothe me.

So I spent $59 on the best heart rate monitor I could find on Amazon, the one “guaranteed” to easily find the baby’s heartbeat after 15-16 weeks.  It arrived, and I covered my stomach with coconut oil, starting to stretch from the forming baby.  I slowly dragged the monitor around, waiting hopefully to hear the heartbeat through the static. I could not find it. I heard a few sounds that were possibilities, but gave me little reassurance.

Scared, I put it away. The directions said not to worry; it could be the position of the baby and to relax and try again in a few days.

In a few days, my regular prenatal appointment revealed that Iris had no heartbeat.  Measurements of her size showed that her heart likely stopped beating just a few days prior.

I wonder.  Did I know – in those moments when I could not find the heartbeat of my own – did I know that it was over?  Was that the cause of my overwhelming sense that something was wrong?

I never told Ger about my heartbeat monitor purchase.  I convinced myself that it was paranoia and went through those days alone in my knowledge that I had not heard her heart beating. After we lost Iris, I returned the monitor to Amazon, claiming that it was defective.

Sleeping, Dreaming Mind

My dreams have disturbed me lately.  I thought I had finally moved on from images of babies and being gripped by fear, but over the past few days they have re-emerged.

In one dream, I had lost Iris and then went to the doctor several weeks later complaining of stomach issues.  An ultrasound showed that I was still pregnant – that I had been carrying twins, but that the surviving baby was growth-restricted like Nelle.

In another dream, I was confronted by a pregnant friend. I had been trying to avoid her but she invited me to her baby shower.  I tried to explain to her how I couldn’t, how it was too painful, but she didn’t understand.

I often wake from dreams like these, my mind screaming “no! no!  NO!” wanting it to be over.  Last night, I took a long bath and a melatonin and while I fell asleep easily, the disturbed sleep had me awake and shuddering at 1:00 a.m., then again at 4:30 a.m.  So I began writing.

What is my dreaming mind doing to itself?  Why is it torturing itself in this way?  Why – when I finally thought I had moved past such disturbed sleep – am I being dragged into the worst moments of the past 8 months that I would rather forget?

I have been weaning from my anti-depressants for the past few weeks.  Not sure if that is the cause of my increased, vivid dreams, or if there is some other trigger in the background that I have not realized.

In a state of exhaustion today, I wore a prayer bracelet I bought for myself (while on the hunt for a new yoga mat).  I place no particular significance on the prayer beads; they are more of a reminder to take a deep breath.

In the moments before I wake up, I am afraid.  Even in the innocuous scenario of a baby shower in my dream, I am gripped by my own fears.  Waking, breathing heavily, sweating, makes for long nights and longer, exhausted days.

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
You roll out of bed and down on your knees
And for a moment you can hardly breathe.
-John Mayer

(Side note: I created a series of writing prompts for myself, after my Writing Grief course was over.  I was titling the posts “Writing Forward” but instead have decided to number them based on the prompt number I’ve assigned – though I’m doing them randomly.  Just a way to keep myself organized).