“My thoughts on subsequent children”
Last week, I rediscovered the melody to go with lyrics to an old, love song composed when I was seventeen. The song was called “No Words.” The song had three stanzas, but required something more. For some reason the song stood out for me as a song for my child, not for a lover anymore. I decided it would actually become a song for my “subsequent children.”
I must explain what a “subsequent child” means. It is a child who is born after a child in the family dies.
Having another child does not ever replace the child that has died; that is impossible.
However, for those suffering with grief, it is an excellent place to rebuild – to find optimism and express the aching love. It is a reaffirmation of life!
As it usually is for me, the mysterious process happened again. I composed a bridge. I was humming along to the chord progression and the words fell out of my mouth.
I really liked my new words, however, my lyrics were extremely idealistic and not completely honest.
I was not cured of pain, sadly, with the birth of my subsequent children. It certainly was part of my survival, and a beautiful part at that.
The lyric line “erased my pain” would be more accurate if it were “eased my pain.” But then my song would not feel as optimistic.
I still feel those lines are honest, but it just took a very, long time. Grief was a process, and it changed me forever. There is no cure.
I like my songs to be “relatable,” and I wanted other people to be able to relate to having any sadness eased with the birth of their child.
“Being in control”
Sometimes I’ve had the common illusion that I’m in control of my life. Loss and resulting grief, is an awareness of the precariousness of life.
When I became pregnant with my second child, Jason was still alive. However, I was grieving the loss of having a healthy child. I focused a lot on my prenatal care and had a lot of testing done to alleviate the worry of having another child with a heart defect. This focus continued even more so when I had my two, subsequent children after his death.
I became pregnant with my daughter almost immediately after Jason died. I began my pregnancy filled with amnesia. When she was born, I was still “numb.” Every stage of grief was different, and the anguish was always unbearable.
I don’t remember her name anymore. I haven’t seen her since the day my daughter was born. I wonder if she still remembers me.
I was surrounded by a lot of compassion and sympathy during my obstetric visits. Perhaps my sadness was so overflowing, it was hard not to notice it. There was a special, nurse practitioner; I wish I could remember her name.
Her eyes were what I remember the most.
Her eyes were filled with kindness and I could really feel she cared. She was worried about me. She would always ask me at our appointments if I were taking care of myself. I told her I was worried that my unborn child would be affected by my crying so much; though I couldn’t imagine any way to change that.
I don’t remember much about my daughter’s delivery because of my amnesia. This practitioner was there throughout and it was very comforting. The memory I have is of her eyes again.
Her eyes were huge, and tears were rolling down her cheeks. I was holding my infant daughter close to my breast. She said to me, “Your story has moved me so much, and I will always remember you. I am so happy for you now.” It was the last time I saw her.
“I contained it”
I wrote about when I became pregnant with my fourth child on the second post of my blog.
When I became pregnant with my youngest son, it was four years after Jason died. I was actively involved at Compassionate Friends and deeply grieving. It was different from my daughter’s pregnancy; in some ways I was more despondent and sad.
I navigated my pregnancy differently and was more aware of my grief than when I had my daughter a few years earlier.
Years had passed since my son’s death, and sympathy for my situation was far less. Most people believe that grief has a timetable and after a year it is “time to get on with your life.” Unless someone has experienced grief, they truly have no idea about it.
I surrounded myself with “fellow grievers” who understood, and I did not impose my sadness on anyone else. I contained it.
However, as my pregnancy progressed I became very depressed. During the last few months every day was like torture for me.
I had a doctor appointment two weeks before my due date. By coincidence, the doctor was a woman I had gone to high school with. She could see how my deep depression was very obvious. I will never forget that appointment.
This doctor said to me, “Judy, would you like to deliver your baby tomorrow? I’ll set it up for you. I have some concerns about your blood pressure and it’s fine for you to deliver now.”
I thanked her and felt some of my sadness start to lift. It would soon be over and I had another new beginning in my life.
An induced delivery was painful, but I didn’t care.
It was over; I had just delivered my youngest son. I began to cry. At first, it was a river of tears but then it changed to heaving sobs. The spasms were endless and flowed on and on; these were contractions that did not stop.
There would be no happy pictures and videos. After an hour, I remember being asked if I was nursing – otherwise I could receive a sedative.
I tried to catch my breath and stop the sobs, but they continued erupting. Gradually they slowed down and rolled from me gently into silence. My exhaustion had taken over.
My body was totally empty now and there would be no more containment.
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.