I am bored and restless today. I have been reading a novel all day and want to get up, do something, be around people, but whom, and what should I do? It is the first day since Sidney’s death that I have felt like this. It feeds into bigger questions of what I want to be doing with my time, and my life. What purpose do I want to serve?
On Sunday morning, one of my journal articles that I had submitted a while ago got rejected. Even writing that sentence gives me a tightness in my stomach, and brings back all the fears and anxieties I have had about my academic career since long before we lost Sidney. On the one hand, I felt angry at myself for even caring about the article rejection, since it is so so so much less important than the death of my beautiful baby boy. but it just seemed symbolic of my inability to do anything, and also of wanting to feel like i have meaning, to feel both like i am contributing to the world in a positive way, and also to myself feel fulfilled. but i don’t have the energy right now or the calmness of mind to figure out how to re-craft this article, to think about who i want my audience to be or how I want to convey the research I’ve done, and also fear that it is not just about whether I want to go back to my job, but even if I can keep it. All the attempts to expand my research that were half done before Sidney’s birth/death seem like failures, rather than the beginning of projects, and I don’t know what I want to be doing, what voice I want to write in, and how to have my writing be meaningful, and it will take time to figure all that out. I know that I am good at teaching, and good at working with children, but how do I convey their stories in ways that are meaningful to them, to policy, and also allow me to continue to have my job? I am not sure how to even begin given how anxious even writing about this makes me. I will stop my tenure clock for a year but I am not sure what the next first steps are? I am not really in a place to begin to answer these questions, but sitting on my bed all day reading novels and grief blogs is also not what I want to be exclusively doing, and does not seem to be particularly beneficial to me. I think I would like to slowly start working with kids, but I am not sure how to set that up, and if I should start in a volunteer capacity, or make it about research. If I mention the research up front, then everything gets more complicated. And I have to go back to my notebook, the interview I had the last Monday Sidney was alive, when his heart already may have been slowing, and revisit a moment when I felt so hopeful, good research lead and conversation, and the excitement that I felt for the pending birth of my second son, a birth I could feel was right around the corner. Then Tuesday evening, as the contractions got closer together, even after I already knew I had felt him moving less, I wrote emails to a bunch of people, canceling meetings and saying I was off to the hospital. Little did I know that as I wrote those emails which seemed so important to send, my son may have already died, or may have been dying inside of me.
How do I make my time and life meaningful?
And I am very anxious about the autopsy results. I think we will get them a week from today at my six week follow up appointment, but I am not even sure. Everything seems uncertain. And what do I do in the meantime? I went for a jog/walk yesterday. I hadn’t been jogging since near the beginning of my pregnancy, and it felt good. I will go again this afternoon, but what else? I have never been very good at having unstructured time, and it is especially hard now. I think of Sidney and what should have been, but feel too panicked to try to figure out what can still be. I try to continue to take it one hour at a time, but how do I do that, when I don’t know what I am working towards?
I have read some interesting novels in the past 5 weeks, a few historical fiction, which are especially appealing to me right now because they bring me back to a time period in which infant loss was common, in which the agonizing pain I feel was still so agonizing but at least was shared and understood by women throughout the community. I also read another novel about the orphan trains, when orphans and immigrant children who were not actually orphans were sent to the midwest and fostered to families in exchange for labor. it was good, engaging, but at the end, a 90 year old woman gets reuninted with her daughter who had been given up for adoption and I wept because I will not have that reunion with my precious Sidney.
It is clear I need some activities and to slowly re-enter the world but how, what steps should I take, and to what end?
Random thoughts: My husband and I are both second children. Sidney was our second son. With both Eli and Sidney I went to the hospital on a Tuesday, delivered them on a Wed. Of course, the results were very different. But I love them both and ache for Sidney to be here with us. Last night, Eli asked if Sidney’s crib would have been in his room, and I said that yes, after a few months, it would have been. And Eli said, I wanted that. I know, my sweetheart, I said. I wanted that too. Then he asked if he could go under the ground to play with Sidney’s body. I said no, that his body was broken, and that it wouldn’t be fun to play with, and that if he were under the ground, then he couldn’t play with me or daddy or his friends. Then he asked if lightning would hurt Sidney’s body, and I explained that his body was safe and protected in a casket. This seemed to satisfy him somewhat. He asked me wrap my arms around him until he fell asleep. Every few minutes, he would ask, “are you still here, momma?” “Yes, my baby.” I responded. “I am still here. It’s okay” as much to reassure him as to reassure myself.