When Kenna died I remember other baby girls being a huge trigger for me.  I'd think I was fine and then I'd go to the grocery store and see a baby girl that would have been about her age and it would set me off right there in the produce section.  This went on for years, in fact, there are several kids we know (boys and girls) who are right around her age and I still think of her when I am with those kids. I'm not necessarily sad about it anymore, but kids (particularly girls) her age still have an impact on me.   My friend Leigh had a baby girl 6 days before Kenna was born and Eva and Kylee are the best of friends now and I often find myself with a pinch of nostalgia when I see those two together.


I expected that new babies, particularly new baby girls, would be a trigger for me again but I have been surprised to find that is not true at all.  Here are 7 things that have turned out to be triggers for me this time around.  Some are specific things other people can say or do, but others are attitudes or mindsets that I am specifically struggling against.  Some are emotional triggers, other are mental triggers.

1.  Pregnancy chatter that revolves around any of the following:  discomfort being worth it since the end result will be a baby, the miracle of a specific gender, or "as long as its healthy" comments.    I will refrain from commenting on any of these specifically, since I know in my previously blessed naivety I have probably said all of them.  For now I'm just staying away from places I am prone to hear this sort of thing.   When I do come across it, I am trying to gracefully stay quiet rather than yell and scream like I really want to.  

2.  Ultrasounds.  I just have to say....women in 2015 America take ultrasound technology for granted. Although I had dozens of ultrasounds with Siena, we have so few beautiful or clear ultrasounds pictures.  Ultrasounds almost always meant discouraging news.  I heard one mom going on about how her husband didn't come to their ultrasound because it  "wasn't all that interesting anyways".   That and people gushing over cute fingers and toes.  This was a trigger for me even during pregnancy as women would come back from the ultrasound room and whip out their accordion of dozens of pictures and pointed out matching chins and noses.   I feel so robbed of that modern rite of pregnancy-passage.  I have an entire DVD from Lucie's ultrasound and a 2D picture that looks 3D of Logan...but almost nothing for Siena.   But hey, I have MRI images of her squished up insides surrounded by my fat and internal organs!

3. Not knowing how to talk about Siena.   Kenna was stillborn.  I had three miscarriage.  I do not have a succinct way to talk about Siena.  There is just no nutshell version.  I literally shake inside when I think someone might ask because I don't want to not talk about her, but my daughter died invites a lot of other questions.  Questions I'm not ready to answer and questions I don't have the answer for anyways.  She was extraordinary in so many ways.  I want everyone to know her story, but when it comes to talking about it out loud?  Not so much my thing right now, except when it is and then try to stop me!

4.  Isolation.  I feel very isolated in general right now.  I went on a retreat this weekend and from what I could tell 99% of the other women in the room had come with a friend.  I felt like a fish out of water, like everything was going on around me and I was just a body.  Truth be told this particular thing is probably partially a struggle because I am a Catholic woman of childbearing age and most of my friends are too...many have forgotten (or never realized) that I might still be sensitive to #1 and #1.  I feel better when I have the physical reminder of support of a person with me, yet the people have more or less gone away.  I suspect I do better because having a person in front of me is almost like a goal.  Getting together with someone or preparing for company has tangible steps.  Things I can rationally accomplish and that helps me feel mentally strong.   Knowing this, I am even trying to reach out to other people, but I have been hearing a lot of "let me get back to you" or "oh I really need to call you" or "we should get together for xyz".  Yet, the follow through is really low and right now I can't help but question if people are actually intentionally avoiding me.

5.  Friends who are struggling.  Ok this sounds stupid and probably makes me sound terribly petty, but this is actually a huge trigger for me emotionally right now.  I want to be there for my friends and I just feel handcuffed.  Depending on the friend and the situation I have been able to muster the energy to help for a measure of time.  Then I start spirally downward because I feel like not only am I not in control of my own life I am a terrible friend.  Maybe this is why they are avoiding me....

6.  Noise.  My brain is on overload and anytime I am in a loud room or place I almost can't concentrate for lack of ability to filter out noise.  If you are talking to me and I look like I'm completely confused, that's why.   For the record, when one is the mom of 5 children on earth noise is a very bad trigger. I need my own brain to slow down and shut UP already.  Then I can think.  So yes, I understand that "Do you want ketchup with your fries?" is an innocent question, the answer to which is not likely to win me any awards but it takes a lot of decision making mojo!

7.  Facebook.  Gosh darn love it-hate it Facebook.  Them and their algorithms that decide how many people will see a certain post or picture from business pages.  Those stats that tell me how many people saw a picture or how many "likes" a new picture has.  They are way, way down for Siena pictures.  I don't even think it's my readers...I'm pretty sure it's Facebook.  Yet I feel like other people are forgetting or not caring anymore.  I read an article months ago about how Facebook likes were the new popularity indicator for teen girls and how it was affecting their mental health.  I realized how easy it was to get sucked into that mentality, especially for teens...and apparently grieving mothers who think people care less.  When really probably Facebook is stupid.

Why am I telling you this?   I promised myself and I promised my readers months ago that I would be transparent on this grief journey.  I can't always blog about the struggles in real-time, so to speak, but I do think it is important to understand just how all over a grieving mother can be (or maybe it's just me).   Learning how to address these struggles and to move through them and hopefully past them is a big part of the work of grief.   Every grieving mother I've ever spoken with could list their specific triggers (the baby section at Target comes up a lot).  It is our reality.

For me, we had four months of hard work fighting for Siena's right to live on God's terms.  Many people have commended us for that journey...for having so much faith in hard times.  If I am being honest, in many ways that was much easier than the work that we do now.  The work of grieving is all encompassing at times and there isn't a clear goal or direction.  During my pregnancy the goal was to get her here alive and do what we could for her.  Now I don't know exactly what the goal is or what might be coming next.

Yet at the same time, you will find me laughing and smiling too.  You will find me doing many of the activities of daily living that were almost impossible for me to complete when Kenna died.    Most of the time I will tell you I am ok and I mean it.

But if I'm not, at this point in the journey there was probably a specific trigger and sometimes just telling someone that the trigger was there helps me push through the emotional overload.



Rita Buettner said...

Prayers for glad you are figuring out your triggers and can articulate them. I hope that helps you. Love seeing the photos of your sweet Siena! I hope I am seeing everything in my Facebook feed and not missing any of your posts.

Angie said...

Thank you for sharing this, Heidi. Keen insights on the work of grief. I like that you call it work. I can feel the effort.
Know of my continued prayers.