THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF
When you enter the world of Motherhood there are so many things people don’t tell you that you simply need to learn. You’re also never told that if things don’t go as planned, you might experience Grief.
After Olivia was born, I drifted through the first four stages of grief. Denial, Anger, bargaining and depression. I was stuck in the void. It’s almost difficult to admit after all Olivia is here, she’s healthy to some degree but I still experienced grief only I didn’t realise it at the time.
The first few days, weeks and months after Olivia was born were and still are a blur. Surrounded by monitors, wires, ventilators. Sitting in silence trying to make sense of what was happening. Occasionally I’d think this isn’t happening any minute now I’m going to wake up. I would scream “Wake up” inside my head. This was the hardest part. It’s only recently that I’ve begun reliving it without fear. Going over every minute every day that I can muster enough energy for. I feel like I owe it to not only myself but Olivia. Recently I dusted off her baby book something that’s given as a gift during pregnancy, something that I buried deep after birth. Something I have avoided for 4 years.
That brings me to anger. Anger is all I knew for such a long time it seemed rational, normal even to be angry. I wanted, NO I needed to be angry at anything/anyone every. single. day. I pointed blame anywhere I could, even at myself. Anger made me feel, during the first few weeks this was all I had. I was too afraid to love just in case the unthinkable happened. Of course, I felt…… to be honest, I’m not even sure what I felt it just didn’t feel like love, maybe it was protection? I know I was scared…I was scared to love Olivia and to not love Olivia, either way, it sent me in a deep dark void. I was suffocated by Anger.
I was angry at myself for not realising the warning signs
I was angry at the surgeons for delivering Olivia early
I was angry at the hospital for not having adequate equipment
I was angry at myself for relying so heavily on strangers to care for my baby
I was angry at her diagnoses
I was just so angry
I can’t even say how many times I got on my hands and knees and I begged, I pleaded and I wished that if there really was a god he would wake me up from this nightmare. I become lost in “What ifs” and “if only”. I felt so guilty and I made a million promises, every eyelash that fell on Olivia’s cheek I would wish upon, every candle I blew out, every shooting star I spotted. I bargained every single day. This lead me into a horrible, vicious circle I was stuck in a loop going through Denial, Anger and bargaining.
This is the tricky one. Everybody who experiences the five stages of grief will experience depression and it doesn’t always mean a sign of mental illness. After almost five years I was diagnosed with PND (post natal depression) and signs of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I couldn’t fight my way out of that fog of intense sadness. I would wonder “Maybe I deserve to die” or “Maybe I should also suffer because my baby is suffering”. This was the hardest to fight through and admittedly I’m still fighting this one.
Am I even here yet? I don’t know. I have accepted Olivia’s health diagnosis, I’ve accepted our life is different to others yet I still question “Why”. I can’t imagine I will ever feel ok about it. Maybe that’s because there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I do however recognise that this life, our life is permanent. It will never be ok what happened but eventually, I will fully accept it.
Even though my anger felt endless I accepted it, I lived through it. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Grief is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. I didn’t lose Olivia I lost motherhood as it’s known, as it’s accepted by society. Honestly, I still have days where I drift through these emotions I don’t try to negotiate my way out of pain. I feel it all but I focus on acceptance.
I’m beginning to make connections with other people in similar situations whereas before I shut myself away from the world. Instead of denying my feelings and what’s happening I’m talking about it and writing about it. I’ve had set backs but after a few minutes, a few days or however long it’s taken me I’ve worked through it again.