Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Of panic attacks and wishful thinking...

There is a sleeping bundle of girlishness on my bed.  She's sleeping in the pseudo-starlight of  her turtle nightlight.

And I...I am here.

I had a panic attack last week.  Two of them actually.  It's amazing to me that the nervous system can really get fried badly enough that it misfires even when you're feeling just fine.  Because, I really was feeling fine.  Or...was I?

Apparently...I wasn't feeling fine enough.  I get that there is this underlying anxiety that lives in my chest at all times.  I get that I'm hyper vigilant.  I get that I'm basically damaged goods.  But...I also get the psychology of grief.  I get the human psyche.  I understand what I've been through and I've been working hard to heal.  And...she IS here.  Sleeping on my bed.  Right next to the co-sleeper that she never sleeps in, because...that is too far away.  I can hear her sleepy noises from where I stand right now.  She is 10 steps away from me at this very moment.  She is here.  Alive.  A big gorgeous girl with bright blue eyes and a presence that say's "Mama...I am here to stay!"

She's vibrant.  Unscathed by life.

And...my grand-babies are within her body right now.   All the babies she could ever have....inside her ovaries.  And that was what did it.  I was holding her.  Loving her smell.  Cherishing her presence.  Knowing all too well how very very very lucky I am.  It was that moment when my heart clenched.  My breathing shallowed.  My eyes swelled with tears...and it began.

I couldn't really protect her.  Not forever.  Not in every way.  Not from loss.

As I held my tiny 2 and a half month old daughter...all 16 pounds of her...I was deeply aware that I was also holding all her babies...her future darlings...and the fear poured over me.  I quaked.

I lost it.

She slept through my jerky sobbing and my sudden fear that I might just die from the despair that was racing through my veins.   She slept through my wails.  Cuddled on my chest...peaceful.

As if to remind me that she wasn't worried.

As a parent...you have to remember not to push your fears on your children.  I bite my lip hard when I see a spider...and calmly try to act like I'm not terrified that it will run up my leg.  I feign composure when we drive on narrow roads near mountain cliffs.  (Of course...I typically lose that battle...My boys are all too aware of my fear of heights, but, I haven't passed it on.  They just think it's silly....)
I don't want my daughter to fear bearing a child.  I don't want her to fear loss.

But mostly...I don't want her to experience loss.


And that isn't something I can force.  It isn't something I can protect her from.

I can only watch.

I can only hope it isn't on her path.

And I fear that it isn't enough.  Hope isn't enough to protect her from pain and tears and loss.

It isn't enough, but it's all a mama has.

When she wants me, she calls for me.  She actually says "Ma mam! Meh Mem!"  She only says this when she wants me.  She can talk.  She's been doing this since birth, and there is no disputing the communication.  She trusts me to protect her.  She trusts me to know what she needs.
I know that she trusts me to have the answers.  She needs to know that I can help her when she's gassy or hungry or lonely or just plain...needy.  She turns to me for help.

My panic attack was over knowing that there will be times that I can't help.  Won't have the answers. Won't be able to take away the pain.

The thing that eased the second panic attack was remembering that I don't need to know the answers.  I found a peace in my being by remembering my readers...my friends...my sisters on this journey that is being a woman who has lost babies.  I remembered all you have done and all you have been to me.  You've been HERE.  You couldn't take away my pain.  But you witnessed me in it.  You couldn't change the fact that loss was part of my being.  You understood and validated my pain.  You couldn't promise me that it wouldn't happen again.  But you held my hands and gave me hope.

And in that, I suddenly realized that hope is more than enough.

Hope is everything. It's all we have.  It's not desperate and it won't change hard events.  It gives you a reason to go on. To find your path. To know that doors will and DO open, even if they aren't the doors you thought you'd venture through.  Experiencing life isn't a bad thing, though it can be a hard journey.  When I look back, I understand that there is hope.  I can give that to my little girl when she needs it...even though I hope she won't need it in the way I did.

Hope.  It saved my life.  It brought me to this moment, where I can hear her breathing.  Where she is only 10 steps away.  Where she is being watched carefully by a loving furry sheepdog who wants nothing more than to lick her tiny feet, but is resisting the temptation....for now.


  1. Oh mama - I'm sorry about the panic attacks. hey sound horrid. I've never had one but I do suffer from anxiety A LOT since Emma died and Toby was born. I have one living daughter too and I never, ever want her to experience this grief - she knows it as a sibling, I hate to think of her knowing it as a mother.

    But, you're right. Hope is everything. Toby was going to be called Hope if he had been a girl because ... well, for all the reasons in your post.

  2. I am sorry to hear about your panic attacks. Even if she does experience loss, she has such a strong spirited compassionate empathetic mother to guide her grief. To show her there is hope.

    I'd like to take a second to share with you the "Serenity Prayer," but not as it is normally written. This is known as "The Real Serenity Prayer" God grant me the courage to challenge the things I cannot change, the serenity of knowing I can make a difference, and the wisdom enough to never quit trying." This always gives me hope.

    Thank you again for sharing your tenderest of moments with us.

  3. This happens to me quite frequently, so I can only send my love and support.
    You're right, hope is all we have to keep us going.
    And love.


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