CYG Day 25: Indestructible Heart

I once had a job, not long ago, working directly with pregnant and postpartum moms, and their children. Occasionally, my coworker, who frequently combed the obituaries, would bring in to work a tattered clipping for a baby or small child. “One of ours,” she’d say. My coworkers and I would huddle in our meeting space trying to fathom what could have happened. Sometimes, I could identify what likely happened: “Oh, that baby was a 24 weeker,” or “heart defect.” (I followed all the high risk cases). Occasionally, a staff member would offer up that the mother had risk factors for SIDS. Or there had been a house fire or car accident.  Other times we just didn’t have a clue.

I would think (and sometimes say aloud), If my child died, I would die too,* or be admitted to a mental hospital.

But when my child’s heart stopped, mine kept on beating, though the physical ache was real. Checking in to a mental hospital would only separate me from my husband and living daughter; it wouldn’t bring back my baby.

Worldwide, across cultures, people endure unfathomable tragedies. They survive, and they build meaningful and joyful lives despite trauma.  This is resilience. In Option B Sandberg and Grant discuss the three P’s (coined by Martin Sligman) which prevent someone from reclaiming their life after trauma.

Personalization: Self-blame. It’s my fault that my baby died. If only I had paid closer attention to her movements. If only I had sought more ultrasounds.

Pervasiveness: When tragedy infiltrates into every aspect of our life. I failed to keep my baby alive, therefore I’m not a good mom to my living child. I’m not a good wife. I’m not a good employee. I’m not a good friend.

Permanence: Feeling as though the severity of the trauma will never end. I am never going to feel better. For the rest of my living days, I will always be the mother of a dead baby and there is nothing I can do to change that fact.

I am still working on the three Ps. I’m not certain that my heart is truly indestructible. It feels quite shattered, actually.

*When I say I thought I would die, I’m not referring to suicide. I’m referring to the belief that I would stop existing if my child died. If you are contemplating suicide, please know that there is help available. For countries outside the United States, click here.

What do you think about the three P’s? Have you built resilience? Is your heart indestructible?

7 thoughts on “CYG Day 25: Indestructible Heart”

  1. The three P’s resonate with me heavily. I don’t think i take the self-deprecating approach or the all or nothing type of thinking but I do still have to combat thoughts of feeling responsible for the deaths of my twin girls. Feeling like my body didn’t hold them properly so it somehow caused the rupture at 16 weeks of one of their sacs. I didn’t have an infection or any of the typical causes of a ruptured sac so I think that’s why that particular thought is so hard to shake. We don’t have answers about WHY it happened to us. I do also still feel like I’ll forever be mom to angel babies. That will not change. I don’t tend to use the term “dead baby” because it just feels icky to me. By I do have two beautiful angel baby daughters that made me a mom even though they’re not physically here with me. Thankfully I’ve gotten past the “am I a good woman” questions and have moved towards the “this is really common and you did nothing wrong” arena. It’s still sad and I still struggle with spells of crying but I do less of the blaming myself than I initially did back in June 2017 after their births…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and responding. Yes, ‘dead baby’ is icky. I have become bitter and cynical in my grief. I hope that by being blunt and honest, people won’t avoid the topic. I am glad you are moving through your grief. I think it will always be sad, don’t you? It’s just a really sad situation. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s always going to be sad. It’s always going to be truly heartbreaking and I’m still feeling that now. I just try to stay away from any other negative feeling can complicate an already horrible one, you know… Sending you healing vibes hun ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post, explaining perfectly the desire in us all to not be perpetually sad for the rest of our our lives. Who wants to think of having this feeling forever? It’s just not acceptable to me. I loved being exhilaratingly happy before my child died and I really love living. I think as long you are chasing happiness, you are a surviving. I lost my child 3 years ago and I’ll be damned if his beautiful life/death is going to be the cause of my lifelong sorrow. I couldn’t do that to him, I love him, my other children and my husband too much to accept that xxx

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  3. The three P’s, depending on how much/long someone struggles with them (we all struggle with them at varying degrees, for varying amounts of time) have the potential to really complicate the grieving process. For example, I had a friend who’s 7 years into this recently tell me that her friends who suffer from anxiety/struggle more with the three P’s are basically getting hit by a truck twice – the grief over their child, plus these other factors on top of it. I feel a bit stuck right now – like this is happening to me. I can see that I’ve struggled with the three P’s lately. My therapist is helping me to work through this, but yeah, it’s really bad right now…

    I think I’ve built resilience, but it’s been a long road, and I still have a long way to go… I don’t know if I’d categorize my heart as indestructible – I feel like my heart is stronger and is still shattered at the same time. I think both can be true simultaneously.

    This was a great, thought provoking post. Also, your old job sounds like it would have been impossible post-loss… I hope the new one is better…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christine. Getting hit twice, great analogy. For me, right now, I’m especially struggling with permanence. I mean it is a permanent situation so I’m not really sure how to overcome this one. Your therapist sounds so great, I’m glad you are working through this. I imagine being pregnant brings some challenges?
      Yes, my new job is much better. Minimal baby sightings!

      Liked by 1 person

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