July 1, 2014 by theresiugoes
I went into hospital on a Tuesday for the induction. I was beginning to worry that my baby would be born on Friday, and I didn’t want that at at all. As Wednesday rolled by and Thursday too, I realised that the choice had been taken from me. The doctors were too busy, the ward too full, and my baby was too comfortable.
Even when they told me, at 11pm on Thursday night that they were about break my waters, I thought “maybe it’ll be quick!”
But I have bad veins, and I had a bad registrar, and after 4 attempts she still couldn’t get the cannula in.
So at midnight, when they rolled me into the delivery ward, I looked out the window into the dark starry night and I whispered “happy birthday, Mum.”
I mentioned in an earlier post that pregnancy brought up a lot of grief, but I wasn’t expecting it to hit me while I was in labour.
I had been anxious about labouring in Canterbury hospital, delivering a new precious life in the same place another precious life was taken. I was relieved when we moved, thinking that Gosford hospital wouldn’t trigger those memories.
But there I was, in excruciating back pain (she was posterior), trying to concentrate on my breathing but all I could think about was my Mum. Hyperventilating, because I couldn’t distinguish between the pain of grief and the pain of labour. Weeping and sobbing, much to the bewilderment of the midwives, while I tried to explain, “It’s my Mum’s birthday.”
I think I was 20 the first time I was told I had “delayed grief”, and a few years later another psychologist called it “unresolved grief”. I realise these are terms of psychology, but I think they’re unhelpful. They can create, at least for me, the false hope that “one day, my loss will hurt less.” That grief can be restricted by time. They create the false sense of security that grief can ever be resolved.
I don’t think it can. When I was younger, I had hoped that I could pack up my sad feelings about Mum in a pretty box, tie a nice ribbon on it and put it on a shelf, only to take down once a year.
I had hoped one day, the pain would be contained, if not disappear.
I was not expecting to be dreaming of her, almost once a week, for more than a decade.
I was not expecting to long for her cracked, gentle hands in mine, 13 years later.
I was not expecting to follow a complete stranger, aimlessly through the shops, because she wore my mum’s dress.
I was not expecting to fall in a heap in the shower, because my new bottle of shampoo smelt like her.
I thought my grief would resolve.
But it doesn’t. It won’t.
It hits me like an invisible freight train, when I least expect it. It cripples me, it overcomes me, it destroys me.
And I’m frustrated by my desire to resolve it. I just wrote this statement below, to end the post:
Of course, it passes. Whole days are no longer consumed by grief, like they used to be. The wound is no longer raw, but I still feel like I’m missing a limb, missing a cherished part of me. Sure, I can get on with life, a little off balance, but it goes on.
It’s ironic that even as I discuss how grief doesn’t resolve, I try to resolve it. Part of me wants it end with a verse from 1 Thessalonians, about grieving with hope and knowing there will be resurrection.
But this time, I’m not going to pass over the tension.
Sometimes, the wound is still raw, and grief isn’t a tidy blog, with a beginning, a middle and an end.