After viewing our episode of The Doctors TV Show (you can watch it here: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/main/show_synopsis/1443?section=synopsis) I wanted to talk about something I haven't really mentioned before. I've always been careful to avoid the subject as it is not an easy one and it's very personal. But, after talking with other fellow baby loss mamas, I realize I am not alone and that most of us deal with this issue so here it goes.
Self esteem, how does a woman view her self worth after the loss of an infant? I can't speak for all women, but from the ones I have spoken with they share a lot of what I feel. I am hugely critical of myself these days. When I was watching our episode all I could think about was how bad my chin fat looked. They say the camera adds 10lbs, it look like it added 10lbs to just my chin! I didn't like the way I looked but that could be because I'm not a huge fan of makeup. I am very critical about the way I look. This was never an issue before the boys died but now, now I don't like the way I look and yes I can be proactive and change somethings (losing more weight, getting my teeth whitened etc) but I think even with masking those issues, deep down inside I will always struggle. I will always feel some sense of self hate.
What many people fail to realize, especially people who haven't gone through a loss, is that us mothers carry a tremendous amount of guilt. I mentioned this to my psychiatrist a few weeks ago and she told me to just let it go, I had nothing to feel guilty about. I didn't cause what happened to the boys and in one way, I know that but unless you have carried a child and had them die inside you, or you've had to tell the doctors to pull life support, you don't know how it feels and can't say it as easy as just letting go of the guilt. I will always live with survivors guilt. I will forever question my self worth in this world, feeling like I haven't accomplished much. I will forever doubt my abilities and decisions.
Ty and Jacob dying took a huge part of me away. I am trying to piece myself back together a little at a time but it is exhausting and some days I feel so lost. I don't know who I am anymore and I don't know who I want to become. But the time has come where I need to stop letting the boys death define me. I know longer want to just be the mom who had two babies died because as true as that is, I refuse to believe that that's all I am. I'm not, I am a mother to Phoebe now and she deserves to have a good role model.
Everything in my life is so conflicting. I know I will always struggle with self esteem, it's all new to me. It only started 3 years ago after Ty died. I wish I could have that esteem back but it died when Ty died. There are many days I look in the mirror and have no idea who I am looking at. In fact, there are many days I avoid looking in the mirror so I don't even have to go there.
I criticize everything about myself. I doubt my abilities, I don't like looking at myself, not even in pictures. I see the fake smile. I see the darkness of my soul in my eyes. It's there. It's always there and I believe in a sense, it will always be there.
Having Bee has surely lightened the load. I am starting to find bits and pieces of the new me. I am starting to recognize that I am capable of achieving some things, even if only small at these moments. She is helping me learn, she is helping me grow and she's pretty darn cute at doing it too!
But some days I still feel like running away. I need a change of scenery and perhaps thats why our trip to California was so amazing despite all the anxiety I had about it. Somedays I wish they boys were cremated instead of buried because at this point in our life, a move would be welcomed but I simply cannot leave the boys. I can't leave their graves unattended and I can't leave our bereaved family that we have become so close too. Then there are days I am so thankful the boys are buried because the cemetery is the only place I feel peaceful these days. On days I really dont want to walk I usually head down there because being there just feels so cathartic. If I could build a house and live amongst the dead I would. It is such a peaceful place and I'm glad I have that to go to. But at the same time, the feeling of needing to get away is also strong. Maybe in a few years my feelings will change, who knows.
What I do know is, I hold a tremendous amount of guilt and unless you have been there you don't know and can't say its as easy as letting go because you did nothing wrong. As a mother who carried a child and had it die inside her, trust me, you feel guilt. As a mother who has had to tell the doctors to pull life support, trust me, you feel guilt. You always feel guilt no matter how many doctors tell you that you did nothing wrong. You are a mother and as a mother you are suppose to protect your children, when they die that upsets the balance of life. Parents are not suppose to bury their children.
I will never get back the piece of me that died with Ty and Jacob. I will never have a full sense of self worth. I can and I will strive to find some self worth somewhere, in being Bee's mom or writing a book, whatever it may be but it will never be full. I will always criticize, doubt and negative self talk. I will avoid looking in the mirror and when I do glance, I will try not to notice the darkness seeping through my eyes. I do hope one day there will be light. There has to be, my daughter is amazing, she is my beacon of light, I just hope it shines through me one day.
Speaking of Bee, we celebrated our first Halloween.
Me and my lil bat