I wonder what the most commonly used word in the English language is. If I had to take a guess…I’d assume it would be “I”.
Suddenly I’ve become aware of a word I use much too often…no it’s not “I”, but instead – for me – it’s “should” or as the case may sometimes be, “shouldn’t”. A million thoughts race through my head each day…the truth is that most of them are still about Ryan. It’s been over five months and the thoughts about him still occupy the majority of my day. Sometimes I wonder when this will change…when it will fade. When will I start to think about him only a few times a day…or only once a day? Someday this will come. I know it will. I don’t think there will ever be a day that I won’t think about him at all – but I know that as time goes on there will come a day when he won’t occupy my every thought. In the mean time I’m okay thinking about him 24/7. It keeps him alive in some way. If I were to stop thinking about him all the time I think part of me would believe I was letting him be forgotten. I feel like I’m the only one who truly keeps his memory alive…the only one who really remembers he was here at all. He was here. He hated spicy food and he liked to wake me up half an hour before I actually had to be up for work…he would kick like crazy if I played a certain song and he had the cutest little button nose and really long legs…he was going to be tall like his father. I never saw the color of his eyes and I never got to hear his cry…but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t here. It seems as though some people think it makes it easier to pretend he wasn’t. But he was.
My son is a part of absolutely everything I do. From brushing my teeth in the morning, to taking a shower, to driving to work. Each and every thing I do all day long has a “should” attached to it. I “shouldn’t” be able to sleep in every day. I “shouldn’t” be able to sleep in at all. I “should” be getting woken up during the night by my sweet baby boy…I wish every single day for a year of completely sleepless nights due to a baby that didn’t sleep through the night – instead of nights filled by nightmares about hospital rooms and morgues, or sweet dreams about a toddler whose smile makes me weak in the knees, only to wake up feeling emptier because I know this dream child is not mine. The dresser in the spare bedroom “shouldn’t” have a diaper changing table on it that is used as a cat bed…and it "shouldn't" be packed full of things I threw in it in a desperate move to get all things baby out of view (think breast pump, bottle sanitizer and a wipe warmer…does anyone actually use those??)……instead it “should” be full of clothes. I “should” have to carry around an extra bag everywhere I go – full of blankets, diapers, onesies, breast milk or formula, baby toys, etc. I “should” have the car seat in the car instead of in the garage…and I “shouldn’t” have the base still attached in my car – but I don’t have the heart to take it out yet. I walk into my work each day and the first room I pass is the infant room…I have learned to not let thought of the babies inside get to me, I expect them there, but what I will never learn to do is get past the thought that my son “should” be in that room while I’m at work. I “should” be spending my breaks breast feeding…and when I talk to the teacher from that room we “should” be talking about Ryan…how he is running out of diapers, or rolling over, or crawling, or just her telling me about something cute he did that day. I “shouldn’t” have a garden devoted to my dead son. I “shouldn’t” need butterflies or a completely clear blue sky to make me think positively about him and thus bring a smile to my face…I “should” have my son here to do that. I “shouldn’t” have a necklace filled with ashes. I have all these amazing people I have met, both online and in real life support groups, but I "shouldn't" know them. I "shouldn't" have spent the day after giving birth calling funeral homes getting quotes for an infant cremation. I "should" have spent February 28th at a 3D ultrasound, instead I spent it at a memorial for my son. I "should" have spent April 4th surrounded by friends and family at MY BABY SHOWER...instead it was turned into a group birthday party for my mother and some of her brothers. I "shouldn't" be coming up with excuses to get out of get togethers with the family around holidays that I refuse to celebrate without my son. I “should” have a crib next to my bed (not super saran wrapped in the garage) – even though I didn’t imagine using him actually using the crib except for naps…I envisioned him silently sleeping the night away lying next to me as I watched his chest peacefully rise and fall - often too mesmerized to fall asleep. I “should” have had the chance to breastfeed my son…I don’t think there is a single more bonding act between a mother and her baby. I “shouldn’t” be hoping to have another child…I had planned on waiting at least a few years, until after graduating from nursing school…now I cant imagine waiting any longer than absolutely necessary. I “shouldn’t” be wondering if I should still keep nursing as my major…I’ve ALWAYS wanted to work with kids with cancer…and now I’m not sure I could handle something that hard – and general nursing was never something I wanted to do. I “should” be able to take real classes this fall, instead of BS online classes – but I just don’t think I can get myself to actually GO to class, not with the way my moods swing and not with the probability of at least one pregnant woman being in a class with me. I "shouldn't" wake up each morning and have three seconds of bliss, only to look around and realize again what has happened, only to feel as if I'd lost my son all over again. I "shouldn't" have a thousand moments throughout the day where the thoughts rolling around in my head get so unbearable that I silently struggle to fight back the tears and have to remind myself to breathe. I “shouldn’t” be able to leave the house without a stroller in my car. And if I take my dog for a walk I “should” have the stroller in tow. Each and every time I walk into a store I am reminded that I “should” have a car seat sitting on top of the shopping cart. Most often throughout my day, I am reminded that I “shouldn’t” have the time to do things like watch an entire series on DVD in two weeks or to write this blog. The moments in my day that aren’t occupied by work or some activity I have immersed myself in (think puzzles and lots of paint) are the worst. These moments are empty…and they “shouldn’t” be.
I think that in the last few months I’ve either used or thought the word “should/shouldn’t” enough to bump “I” out and make it the most commonly used word in the English language. I've contemplated writing Websters and asking them to remove "should" from the dictionary...maybe if the word didn't exist I wouldn't be haunted by these thoughts...
I “shouldn’t” have “IVillage – Stillborn” as the website I visit most often. I wrote something on there a few days ago…I was having a really hard evening. “I really don’t know what to do. I feel so lost and so alone. I could never, would never, hurt myself but that doesn’t stop me from wishing every single day that I had either died during my c-section or that something would happen now and fate would release me from this life and I could go be with my son. I feel useless…like my life is meaningless. I get up and get out of bed simply because I know I’m supposed to…I have to work because I have bills to pay…there is no choice in the matter. If I had a choice I’d have my boss lay me off so I could collect unemployment and I'd stay home, in bed, under the covers, in the dark all day. I just feel like my life ended the day Ryan died…there is no going on without him…I’m not really a person, I’m just simply here……and I don’t know why, and I wish I wasn’t.” There are two things I’ve been told repeatedly since losing Ryan…one is that Joe and I would grieve differently and we’d probably never be at the same place in our grief…and the second is that grief is a roller coaster. It really is. There are moments when I can’t believe it’s only been five months – I sometimes feel as though it’s been far longer and I’m doing incredibly well given the circumstances of my life. And then there are moments – like that night – when I feel like five months is nothing…like I just lost my son yesterday and I’m starting over in the grieving process.
For a long time I wrote each and every day. I wrote to Ryan, and I wrote to myself. I blogged and I posted messages. And I started to write the story of everything I went through when losing Ryan. It is enough to write a book...which I seriously planned on doing...I got about 1/4 of the way through it and now I just cant write. I've always enjoyed writing...and I'm not half bad at it if I do say so myself...I've written short stories and even attempted novels before...but they just never had much meaning behind them, I wasn't really passionate about any of them. This is something that could reach out to countless women in my shoes...it is something that would really mean something. And I'm coming up with nothing. I cant even get myself to write to Ryan...let alone sit down and work on this story I was so amped up to write. I got up to the point where I walked in to the hospital and it was like I just slammed into a wall and it cant be broken down. In the past three weeks I think I managed to write one sentence before I had to close my notebook and move my attention on to something else. It's weird because everything from the moment I found out I was pregnant until well after losing Ryan replays so vividly in my head...I have the story all up there...I just cant put the pen to the paper and make it come out.
I always thought "writers block" was an excuse...Now I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who has a sure fire cure to get over a serious case of writers block?