I am back to having a lot of trouble believing Sidney is dead. I look at his pictures every night before I go to sleep, and I have started flashing back again more regularly to arriving at the hospital in labor, and having some random doctor tell me, “Your son has passed. Do you understand what I am saying?” The raw pain overall is not as consistently intense but it can still knock me down. I think that the problem I am having is that in general, when I get anxious about something, in order to reassure myself, I tell myself, well, that is unlikely, or you are worrying over nothing, or X is not actually so bad, but there is a disconnect in my brain, because I think well if I am worrying over nothing, than Sidney must not be dead. I don’t really know how to explain this, but all I know is that my heart is aching tonight, and I want my baby here in my arms.
Eli has a stomach bug, at least rational me thinks that is what he has. He’s actually never thrown up before this, other than baby spit up. And he already seemed a bit better tonight, and even ate half a ginger snap, the first food he agreed to eat all day. When I called the doctor she said that I did not need to bring him in, that there was just a bug going around. But of course, my mind worries that I might be missing something, like I missed something with Sidney. Earlier yesterday, Eli was riding on my husband’s shoulders and my husband walked him into a hanging sign by accident, and he smacked his head. Eli cried, but he didn’t black out, bleed or actually even really get a bump. But of course, when he threw up last night, I spent a lot of the very early am hours, reading about symptoms of head injuries, and wondering if something more serious could be going on. Shortly after Sidney died, I went to a meeting of a group called Compassionate Friends, for anyone who has lost a child. There was a father there whose 5 year old had died. He said that on a Tuesday she told him her stomach hurt, and then by that Thursday, she was dead (I don’t know of what. I actually did not return to the group, because I wasn’t in a place to hear about all the horrible ways that children can and do die). So I am sitting in the room next to Eli’s, listening for sounds of distress, mostly thinking he is fine, but still scared. I tell myself, well, that is unlikely. He just has a normal stomach bug, and then I am back to disbelief, not grasping how Sidney could be dead after a healthy pregnancy. I will never really understand it.
On an only peripherally related note, the Baltimore City schools are a mess. On Wed, I was volunteering in a second grade classroom, and one of the girls threw up (which adds to my paranoia that I am somehow the one that got Eli sick, and am carrying some bacteria or virus unknowingly, like perhaps I did with Sidney). No one was helping her, so I went over and rubbed her back and then walked her down to the ‘nurse’. The nurse found her a pair of over-sized shorts to change into (it’s winter), and said she would call her mom to bring her pants, and then immediately sent her back to the classroom, not taking her temperature, giving her water or juice, or sending her home. In my elementary school, if someone threw up, they were required to go home. It might be because some kids don’t have parents who can take time off to get them at school, but it still seemed like a problem, and perhaps an explanation why the kids seem to get sick so frequently (and don’t get me started on the nightmare of an appointment to lead the department of edu, and how things will probably get even worse). And also reminded me of a rather absurd thought that I had when ebola was in the news so much. I remember thinking that if I had a child who got ebola, it would be so difficult not to physically comfort them or hug them when they were in need. It made my heart physically ache at the time to imagine it, to have you child in pain, needing you, but not being able to embrace them or provide them any comfort. When I have worked with kids in the past, even though I know I might get sick (but of course, we are talking about much much much milder sicknesses), I can’t just not comfort them when they need me, hence helping vomiting girl. I have even gotten lice a few times, because I felt like I couldn’t not hug or play with the children who obviously had lice, but then let other kids sit on my lap, especially since the ones with lice were often the most neglected or in need of attention in the first place.
But somehow Sidney needed me and I didn’t realize. He was suffering, and I didn’t save him. And now my heart is broken.
And no, I don’t want to hear about all the people you know who are pregnant or giving birth. And no, it is not okay to ask me if so and so is pregnant. Why in the world would you think that makes sense?
Next week classes start, and I will be back at work full time. In some ways, so similar to last January, but in other ways, so entirely different, a much worse version of my life before. And I still somehow can’t believe Sidney is not here, that I am a mother of a dead son. He has now been gone about the same time he was even here.
And it is Eli’s fourth birthday next Monday. Something Sidney will never have. I miss him. I will never understand why he is not here.