Sunday, November 06, 2005

Horror movies

I think about Thomas every day. He's always sitting there in the back of my mind, and thoughts of him float freely to my consciousness with comforting regularity. Most of the time the thoughts are quick and gentle - they're no longer always desperately sad. But sometimes the thoughts are intense, and not gentle at all.

For some reason my brain takes me back to a particular moment and plays out the memory like a movie - word for word, just as it happened. These movies start playing without any warning - I'll be in the shower and suddenly I'm transported back to the birthing suite, or I'll be washing dishes and the next thing I know I'm at Thomas' funeral. They're always jarring, these daymares of mine.

I usually end up with an ache in my stomach and that empty, gnawing feeling of desperation because I know what's going to happen next and I can't do a thing to change it. No matter how many times I play the movies in my head they always end the same way. And the worst part of these movies is that they're true. They're real. They happened to me, to My Beloved and to our precious little boy.

It's just so frustrating. I can finally think about Thomas without automatically remembering the complete horror of his birth and death, but for some reason I still can't let go of that horror completely. I take myself right back into that terrible darkness and confusion when I let those movies play out in my head.

But I can't stop them from coming.

My last OB appointment, the induction, laying on the couch timing contractions, waiting for the birthing suite, My Beloved plugging the toilet, having my water broken, getting the epidural, the fitful three hours of sleep, being told it was time to push, the increasing pain, three hours of pushing, begging the nurse to let me stop, the OB giving me the option of continuing or having a C-section, being prepped for surgery, falling in and out of sleep during the delivery, waiting for them to show me my son, hearing them bagging him but not knowing what the horrible squeaking sound was, seeing the backs of what felt like a hundred people as they tried desperately to revive him, asking anyone who would listen what was wrong with my baby, praying desperately for God not to take my son, waking up in the recovery room, being told he had a 1% chance of survival, telling a nurse I didn't want to pray with her, not being able to look into My Beloved's eyes, calling my Mother to ask her if she thought taking him off life support was the right thing to do, sobbing, asking My Beloved if he believed Thomas would go to heaven, seeing him for the first time before being taken to my room, marveling at his beauty, feeling the warmth and softness of his tiny head underneath my hand, holding him while we waited for him to die...

I don't think about these things all the time. I couldn't possibly or I'd go insane. I take the good parts - the sweetness of his little face, the weight of him in my arms - and I change them into memories that are somehow not connected to the horror of those two days in March. That's what I do most of the time. And that's how I survive.

I'm startled by the movies when they happen, but I'm just as afraid to have them stop altogether, to be honest. What would I do then? My memories are doctored up as it is, if I lose the real ones I'll have nothing. So right now this is working for me, I suppose. I'll just have to accept the jarring nature of the movies when they start playing and know that once they're over I can go back to the way I've become accustomed to living - with the sweet thoughts of my baby instead of terrifying ones.

I never in a million years would have dreamed I'd have the mental energy for all of this, but somehow you do what you have to do. I want to remember Thomas - I want to remember everything about him - but I don't want to be sad all the time.

So this works. It's a roller coaster, but it works. And since I can't get off this ride anyway there's nothing to be done but make the best of it.


Catherine said...

This is so well-written. It explains it so well. Thank you for giving voice to something that I sometimes find difficult to explain to people.

For a while after Alex died, I watched the moments replay in my brain and spent a good amount of energy wishing, praying, hoping...for a different end. When I accepted that the end wouldn't change, the memories hurt a little less. Some days still, when I'm feeling particularly vulnerable, they are unbearable and I try distraction to get rid of them. But the majority of days now, I spend like you...taking whatever good I can and trying to beat back the horror.

Jill said...

Even my lesser horror returns to me every few days in all its full-sensory beauty. The lighting, the smells, the people, the feel of the morphine injections in my leg. Stuff I thought I'd forget but are still there, just a little further from the surface now.

I can only imagine that this rollercoaster will be your mode of travel for a long time to come but sometimes I think that's better than feeling nothing at all - like nothing ever happened.

Anam Cara said...

I agree with Catherine's comment. You are always able to explain yourself so beautifully. I too play the same movie, of my Thomas' birth, in my head. Not as often as I use to, but it still happens frequently. I know I will never be able to completely let go of the horror, ever. How can you when the ending is so tragic??? This may sound odd but lately I keep thinking I wish we had made a videotape of him. Sometimes I just wish SO badly that I could really see him again. Too late now, pictures are all we have. Thinking of you and sending lots of (((hugs))).

Bronwyn said...

This is a beautiful post, even if it's about a very painful subject. I know I have to force myself not to keep replaying the movie over and over, because it brings me to tears every time. I still feel so guilty, like there should have been something I could have done to make things turn out differently. But the ending of the movie will never change, no matter how much I want it to.

I hope it gets easier for you soon.