I randomly got an email from a publicist recently with this photo of a pregnant Selma Blair. I looked at her dress, stared at her bulging belly, wondered how she managed to teeter around on the shoes.
I did not cry.
This is significant because even as of a couple of years ago, I could be brought to tears by a shot of a glowingly happy pregnant celeb. Real-life preggo moms would get me weepy, too. Once, during the year after Max was born, a coworker told me she was pregnant as we stood in a hallway. I burst into tears. Burst. Into. Tears. It was that bad.
It was the grief acting up and melancholy, too, an ache for that time when I was carrying Max and the world held only possibilities. I had no fear anything would go wrong with the birth, or with my child. My biggest problem was deciding on the right green paint for Max's room. I could never have imagined he would have a stroke at birth. I'd think back to Pregnant Me and feel sad for that woman who naively assumed everything would be OK.
I've come a long way. And I know it because this weekend, when I was organizing a closet, I found a folder labeled "Baby" from my pregnancy with Max. I hesitated to look in it—that, I wasn't sure I could handle. But I opened it.
There was a bill for an overpriced quilt set, the "Top of the World" design. Yellow, with little floating hot air balloons. There was a six-page list of things to buy from my friend Wendy, with notes like "Don't buy dress shoes/booties, they fall off." A Certificate of Achievement from the childbirth prep course. Instructions from Cryo-Cell, where we'd chosen to preserve stem cells that we would eventually use for Max. An article from American Baby on the best baby tubs. A note on registering for preschools (yes, I was that hyper-organized). Information on a college savings program. An entire folder full of hope.
I sat there on the floor, the papers in my hand. No flood of emotions washed over me. It was as if I had been on an archaeological dig and found something from many, many years ago, relics of a different life.
I'm not saying that time never gets to me. Doctor visits where I have to discuss Max's history are still hard. The other week, I went to see a new doc and I had to check off "Stroke in family" on a form. When she asked me who had a history of stroke, I felt the grief rise up. "My son," I said in a quivery voice, and the tears dropped.
The fact that the stroke happened to a baby, my baby, I still haven't gotten past. I doubt I ever will. But I no longer grieve for that pregnant woman I was, or for the child I did not have. That's because I am steeped in Max's present...and all the amazing that he is.
Full disclosure: I cried writing this.
i know its a big step to not cry in situations like that. *HUG* and thank you for speaking your heart and sharing your emotions about those days right after Max's birth and how you have reacted in the past. Your story gives courage. I'm glad you published this :)ReplyDelete
I can only imagine the journey this has been for you. ((hug))ReplyDelete
Full disclosure: I cried reading this!ReplyDelete
My daughter was diagnosed with skeletal dysplasia via ultrasound and I don't know if I will have the same "excitement" regarding ultrasounds after that experience. To me and to many women, they are/were a chance to see the baby, find out the gender, etc... but now I know too well that really ultrasounds are for diagnostic purposes, to see if the baby is healthy and developing normally... I was that mother who went into an ultrasound all excited and walked out into the room full of pregnant ladies bawling because I didn't know if my baby would survive. Thankfully she did, but I still carry that scar...
I just found your blog and I cried reading some parts. A good cry - not a bad cry....anyway...you're an inspiration.ReplyDelete
Now I'm crying, I feel your pain.ReplyDelete
I relate so much to this. I sometimes find myself longing for the simple days, too. The days back when I had no idea what was to come.ReplyDelete
I still have a ways to go - I still cry after most doctor's appointments. Thank you for sharing. Its always good to be reminded that we're not alone.ReplyDelete
I'm crying now! I thought I was the only one who can't handle pregnant women. That show "Baby Story" on TLC....I hate that show! They have the baby and everything is perfect...the end. I was relieved when my youngest daughter was born "healthy". Little did I know that she would start having seizures at 6 months old, have a significant regression at 22 months, and at 3+ years old have no words and would have just started walking.ReplyDelete
I hope I get to the point where I don't want to cry when I see a pregnant woman, too.
Such a beautiful and touching post. I used to tear up around pregnant women too sometimes, same reason. It's a good thing I'd stopped because our babysitter this year was pregnant and I'd have been crying all the time.ReplyDelete
Appreciate this post - I still tell my husband that it's hard for me to look at pictures of us while I was pregnant with T-man. I still grieve for the people in those pictures who were blissfully unaware of what would happen at our beautiful child's birth. I have come a long way in the past 6 years, but I still get sad, but as I always say, I can push that sadness away a lot faster now. and I have MUCH to be grateful for and be happy about now. My T-man makes me so proud in all that he has accomplished and will continue to do so.ReplyDelete
My son will be 17 this October. I still won't acknowledge pregnant women. I can't. Newborns, I cant even look at. My mom's close friend had a baby recently, i refuse to look at the pictures. I still struggle with "why me. why US. WHY HIM!?"ReplyDelete
Full disclosure, I didn't cry reading this. Over the years, i've made myself numb. But I get it.. I feel it too. I've just gotten a little better and pushing it down deep. Thats how I get by. Push it away. Otherwise, i'll be depressed nonstop. I did that for many years already. It's not productive.
Nearly 17 years later, driving past parks, and schools, are still the hardest for me.
Ellen -- Such a beautiful post. Loads of love. LaurenReplyDelete
Ellen, Thanks so much for sharing your Heart...ReplyDelete
I still want Robin to bring me flowers & balloons every year;I missed out on those when my son was born; Leo's 7! Last year, I bought them for Robin, too (he's not a cigar type of guy); we had a little party & then our 7-year-old Leo came home from school! Of course, we then had *Leo's Party*.
I didn't grieve Leo's birth the same way many moms do, but Robin did...Still, I start to be blue toward October's end...I'm all healed by the time I see Leo's smiles & hear his exclamations at his Gifts, November 6.
Thank you for the hope & knowledge that these feelings will likely diminish with Time, & maybe I won't always need floral bouquets & "Congratulations on the Birth of your Baby Boy" balloons every year.
I love you, Ellen!
I'll admit that I'm jealous of pregnant women, remembering the ignorant happiness I felt having William in my tummy. Then my world crashed. Every time I see a pregnant women...I wonder if she is in ignorant happiness and may be having a sick child, or if she will appreciate having an healthy child and not take it for granted as I see some parents do. Maybe it's easier for me to put my feelings secretly onto other strangers than to deal with my own emotions. Thank you Ellen for always putting things into perspective!ReplyDelete
Thank you for putting this into words.ReplyDelete
I love your blogs!! This one brought tears. Most things you post bring up exactly how I feel at times. My son is only 2, so I'm still kind of in the grieving process. I've faced most of my grief, because, and I'm sure you know this, as the mother I had to step up and face reality from the beginning. But I still have my moments. Thanks for sharing!!ReplyDelete
Max and Sabrina are great kids
I still have trouble seeing babies so I know what you mean.ReplyDelete
You did not cry, but you made me weepy!!ReplyDelete
Yes, the same thing happens to me. I see someone pregnant or see a newborn and I just get misty. It's hard. I understand.ReplyDelete
update: After I posted here, Ellen, I called Robin at work to share your post with him. I broke down then...I guess I needed you...Robin became very quiet for a Moment, in the midst of whirring computers & working-Day insanities...I believe he may also have shed a cathartic tear or two. Thank You for all you do, Ellen. You & Your beautiful Family are always in our Hearts, CherylFaithReplyDelete
It's funny when and why the hard emotions hit us. And, even harder, it doesn't go in a straight line. This was such an honest and lovely post. Thank you for sharing your emotions.ReplyDelete
Oh my gosh. Somewhere on specialneedsmom.com I wrote a blog post called. See My Cry Everywhere! Parent Teacher Conferences, Field Day- talent shows where the typical and the exceptional convene with vast contrast front and center state, too big to ignore.ReplyDelete
I see infants so perfect, still pink and want to warn the blissfully unaware new moms by saying " Don't take this for granted"
After Zoe had already been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, and generalized epilepsy and other add ons- her annual MRI at age 5.5 showed she had suffered from a SLE. No functionality was lost, but there was evidence by the damage shown on the MRI. Something that scares you almost into forgetting- FOCUS on the progress, the functionality- and leave the clinical data to someone else.
How wonderful you have moved on to meeting the challenges of today and celebrating the victories! Yeah ELLEN!
Oh Ellen! I cried as I read your post because I still have these feelings. It is difficult for me especially to see pictures of healthy twins or meet women who tell me they are expecting twins. I also go back to moments in time during my pregnancy before my whole world fell apart.ReplyDelete
In fact, yesterday for some reason my mind travelled back to a day in December 2008 (a few weeks before the twins were diagnosed with TTTS). My friends and I were at a restaurant and we noticed Gene Simmons sitting at a table near us. My girlfriend (who was also pregnant) and I went and asked him for a picture. He joked that he was not responsible for either of our pregnancies. I still have the picture and I remember that day so clearly - I was happy and excited about the babies arrival. I was totally unaware that anything could go wrong and all I knew is that I was going to have two healthy twin baby boys.
I am so proud of my boys and how far they have come - they have completely surpassed the doctor's expectations and they will continue to do so. But there are those days when I still feel sad about what could have been. I hope one day I can look at a picture of my pregnant self and not cry. Thanks for writing this.
Beautiful, Ellen. I cried just reading it. I think that any woman who's had a child with any health issues could relate.ReplyDelete
There is a particular picture of Benjamin and me, taken less than an hour after he was born, before the doctor told me about his Down syndrome, that I have very mixed emotions about. My face is so full of happiness and pure joy and innocence. I long for that girl sometimes. The one who hasn't had 3.5 years of surgeries, illnesses, and shattered dreams. But then again, I wouldn't have my precious B.ReplyDelete
But I get it.
Full disclosure: I also cried while writing this.
Max is still all full of potential. He's just gonna take a different route to get there. I mean, someone needs to develop and market a line of purple spaghetti. And the hyper-organised woman who was investigating preschools and bathtubs is the same one who investigates therapies and makes sure that everyone eats and usually wears clean clothes and makes it to 100 million appointments. Thank god for her. :)ReplyDelete
That said, I think grief will probably hit you in different ways your entire life - just less frequently and hopefully less intensely as time continues to march on.
Thanks for making me cry! You give me hope that I will be there too someday!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the kind words, all. I'm sorry to make some of you cry.ReplyDelete
Lisa, I think you are very right. And Jean, yes, it really is complex how and when things get to you—"there is no line," indeed.
I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now and love it. I had to comment on this because I could have written it myself. It's hard for me to see happy pregnant moms and with no worries. My son is only 2.5 but after 4 surgeries countless specialist visits and weekly therapies it is still hard... We still dont know what we are dealing with which makes it hard but not as much as in the beginning. I try to push it down and have become pretty good at that. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
I think it's really kind of like a post traumatic stress disorder. Something happened to us to totally shift our world. We're ok, but every once in awhile something just grips your gut and you remember. My husband and I also have a picture we took to be our portfolio picture for the adoption agency. We are so happy and hopefull. My husband can't even look at it because that was how we were before Kyle. It's painful to see all the hope and possibility. We love Kyle totally, but sometimes love doesn't make the day to day any easier.ReplyDelete
This is a huge step for you! As always, many prayers <3ReplyDelete
Please do not feel "sorry" for ~helping ~me to cry. Surely, I am not alone in a feeling of Catharsis; you freely Gifted catharsis to so many people this Day...I am a Mother; I am a Woman; I love when a special person helps me to cry, as I often bang my head against the Wailing Wall, so to speak, when all I truly need, in order to move on with this exciting Life, is a Good Cry.
Thank you from our Hearts, from this little British-American family, including our little Leo, genetically enhanced with his extra special chromosome) Much love to you & your angels, CherylFaith, Robin (British hubby, my SoulMate), who is Daddy of Leo, 7, our amazing little kid, who happens to have that extra chromosome. Love you, angel Ellen!
ps I don't have a "Mommy Blog," per say...& I often feel guilty about this. May I direct you, then, to a couple of Advocacy posts within my online WordWorkshop?
You & your family live in my Heart & my eclectic prayers, Ellen. In my Life, you are a rare & precious Jewel.
Would that I could think I wouldn't cry. Or that in the safe and friendly times I would cry. My emotions in this regard are an awful lot like a yo-yo on a twisted, knotted string.ReplyDelete
Full Disclosure: I cried reading this. It's frustrating when you see happy healthy kids with parents that really don't care about their kids too. That really gets me down.ReplyDelete
I used to cry every time I heard someone was pregnant...especially with a girl. But I don't anymore!!!ReplyDelete
Full disclosure: I cried reading the comments. On the train to work, looking like an idiot. All of you mothers are lionesses. Your kids are lucky to have you.ReplyDelete