Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forced rest and a confession

I wanted to thank everyone who offered sympathy for my feelings of being overwhelmed. I wanted everyone to know I'm not a masochist. Of course I would take a sick day for mental health, if I could.

But I won't get paid. Our state has a type of employment that was supposed to be for temporary work. They abuse it horribly. It was intended to allow departments to employ people on temporary, grant funded projects, without the expense of paying benefits. Unfortunately, they now use it for EVERY grant funded position, no matter how long the grant is for (the one I'm working under is from a federal source and has no expiration). So they get away with employing people for years, at full time, with NO benefits. No sick leave, no vacation, no way to get health insurance, no retirement. If you are not at work, you do not get paid. We can't even accept donated sick leave from someone else. And not only do I not get paid for state holidays, I am expressly not allowed to work on one. It is monstrously unfair. It is why I went back to work 11 days after giving birth to a dead infant. It would have been sooner if I could have stood up. So cue today, when I am forced to stay home because my period was so bad this month that I couldn't function without a pretty high dose of narcotics. I haven't slept more than a couple of fitful hours since Saturday night so I had to stay home today. I'm not sure I could have driven to work safely, and I couldn't stand up straight this morning in any case. So now I am being forced to rest, which I am really angry about because I have now lost the time I saved up for the stupid holiday next week. I am so joining the union and filing a lawsuit for this. It is not right to treat state CAREER employees like irresponsible part time teenagers. I'm fucking sick of it.

I have tried to find another job, there just isn't anything open right now. That's the case pretty much everywhere.

Anyway - enough of that. Here is the real reason I wanted to post today. I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now. As noted here, the later part of this cycle has mirrored the dates of the cycle when I got pregnant with Aiden. This has caused a lot of anxiety and bad memories to circulate in my head lately. The main one I keep thinking of is that I don't miss my son.

A fellow blogger said recently that had the hospital given her another live baby she would have been content. As terrible as some people may think that sounds, I agreed. What I can't forget or overlook is that the baby I actually had would not have lived. In some ways that makes him not really real to me. Of course I loved him, still love him, but it is an abstract kind of love. I think of my Aiden as a fragment of a soul that was trapped in a broken body and released to go back out into the world when we let him go. I never would have gotten to meet that soul. Had his body survived to breathe on its own, he still would have been trapped. Unable to connect, not really here. Sometimes I think that is a horrible way to think of a very disabled child, but it is what I believe. I don't think it is a kindness to keep life for the sake of just breathing. There should be something there; some spark, some connection. Anything less is just torment for everyone involved. This leaves me with the thought that I don't miss my son. How can I miss something I never held, would never have been able to hold? How can I miss something so nebulous as a tiny little fragment of a soul that never developed? I think I just miss the possibilities, the might have beens. But it is such a circular thought. I miss what my son might have been had he not been so deformed. But he was always so deformed, he started out that way as a small bundle of cells. So how can I miss what was never really there? But if he was never here, why am I so sad? Why can't I forgive my body for making something so broken? These are questions I just can't answer, and they lead to another confession: I am beginning to hate his name.

Every time I type his name, my computer underlines it in red. For some reason the accepted spelling in the metal minds of computers should be Aidan. But that was not the spelling I chose and changing it seems so wrong somehow. Like his name is interchangeable, so he was too. Any old baby will do. I haven't gotten to the part of my/his/our story where we chose a name. Very briefly - we didn't put much thought into it like we did with our daughter. This was only because we had a very short time to make decisions and we didn't want the baby to die without a name. If we were going to force him to leave us, we wanted to say goodbye with something other than Hey You. It felt so disrespectful somehow to not have a name. After a few days of searching online when we could, my husband asked if there was a name I liked. I had liked Aiden from my teenage years and I liked the meaning (flame or fire). We never would have chosen it for a living child as it is FAR too popular. We like somewhat unique names. But in the limited time we had to choose, it was acceptable to us. I'm not sure I really regret that, I think I may have felt worse if he did die without a name. However, because of the way we chose his name I have always felt guilty about using it. Now I am actually starting to dislike it. It is not the name I would have chosen. It doesn't fit in my head and it's edges seem to scratch more every day. Instead I think I will start using his middle name, which we did give a lot of thought, and he didn't receive until he had been gone for weeks. My little Wren. I think I am happier with that, and the damn computer likes it too.

I'm sorry I couldn't hold you Wren, I wish I cold have known you.


  1. Oh Jen, I am so sorry for everything. I wish you had a decent employer who would do the right thing. You do not deserve that.
    I know you love your baby boy, nothing will ever change it. I understand how strange it is to love something you never met and never really existed. My husband early on used to say that our baby was the concept of a baby, I was so angry to hear those words, but maybe he was right. Your feelings do make sense. I wish we all could have been given a do over card.
    Thinking of you and hope you feel better soon in body, mind, and in spirit

  2. i wish i could fix everything for you. it's not fair. none of it.

    i want my own baby back, but i would snatch up any living baby offered to me in an instant.

    great post. i wish i had something more profound to say in reply. xxx

  3. I like Wren--it's so beautiful and fitting for a little boy who had to leave too soon. It really is a cool sounding name.

    I know what you mean--how the hell do you miss someone you never really knew? You miss the physical person, the possibilities, but missing a baby you never knew . . . it's mind-boggling, it is.

    Hope you are feeling better all the way around. Ugh, this all stinks, doesn't it?

  4. How I wish I could just give you a big hug right now! We really should get together agin, outside of share. I have very similar thoughts. How is that I love zach so much but never met him...why do I miss him and long for him more than I do my great grandmother who helped raise me. I have days that seem so easy in this process and yet one small moment can take my breath away with grief.
    And I love the name Wren! Such a beautiful name :)

  5. Jen, I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you and I also wish I could both give you a hug and some great painkillers for those awful cramps. What a combo of bad job with such stress. Good job vibes are aimed in your direction.

    My heart totally broke when I read your comment on the name as well. And getting a live baby handed to you instead, it's just un-fucking-fair and I want so much to whisk that away. My thoughts are with you and send you a massive hug and hope for Fall to bring better changes.

  6. Aww. Thanks for quoting me.Sometimes i feel so alone in missing an idea instead of a person...

    Did I ever tell you that my 5 y.o.'s middle name is Wren? I love bird names and wanted him to be Wren or Lark, but Mr. Conventional won the first name choice.

  7. Ug. SO sorry to hear about the crappy lack of benefits situation at your job. That is a nightmare.

    For me - I could relate to what you said about your son having deformities. I made a comment on your blgo awhile ago when I thought you were going to say your baby had trisomy 18. Later I learned from you that wasn't what it was. But I can relate to the deformities.

    Our daughter had so much wrong with her as she had trisomy 18. Two holes in her heart, underdeveloped lungs, some kind of extra arteries or veins around her heart that shouldn't have been there, clenched fists, spinal problems, her face looked different, and I'm sure a whole host of developmental problems if she had lived. It was so very clear her body was not meant for this world. And when I miss her, and wish she were here - it is a healthy, normal baby. Selfishly, but honestly, I'm not sure how I would handle life with such a high needs/special needs child. When I hear other BLM comment on how their baby was perfect, and they wonder why they died, and wished they were here - that doesn't fit my experience. My child did not look perfect, I know why she died, and I don't wish she were here because she would have suffered so greatly.