On the anniversary of Sadie’s death I received an email from a woman I befriended through our antenatal class, whose boy would have been turning two around the same time.
I was surprised that she remembered until it occurred to me that she must on some level associate her son’s birthday with Sadie’s death, considering our children were born only a week or so apart, and that we were fairly close at the time. She expressed her sympathy and went on to vaguely mention that she had suffered three losses over the past year herself.
Three losses over the last year. Under normal circumstances my reaction would have been instantly and deeply empathetic. Instead, all I could think of was, “Wow. They probably started trying for baby number two when he was just twelve months old.” My mind clicked through the math, calculating the age difference between her and I.
I’ve turned into a bit of an age-obsessed person who can’t see past her own poorly-constructed maternal guessing game. “How old do we think she is?” (Oh yes, it is the royal we inside my head.) “How old are her kids?” Five points if she’s older with just one. Two if she’s younger with more than one. And, “You lady, you get me twenty points for being obviously over 40 with a toddler!”
I’ve been working flat out for the past six months, pulling hours that looking back, I’m not entirely sure how I pulled off. All toward an end goal that I’m now on the cusp of; a career opportunity I didn’t even know I had enough drive to want, let alone get. Every week that passes seems to include blowing off the gym, missing a deadline here at Glow, or bailing on a night out with the girls. And of course, procreating. Instead of re-jigging my priorities or adding “Try Again” to my strategic objectives list, I cower, digging my head into the sands of avoidance even deeper.
I’m 33 next month. There’s nothing dire about that. Women have long been fed the notion that 35 should be considered our Best Before date. Yet everywhere around me I watch as others are laughing in the face of that idea as they start their families in their late thirties and early forties. So why have I been punishing myself all this time, calling myself weak (and much worse) when no one else could hear it?
Does time tick by in the same way for the babylost as it does for the rest of the world? After wreaking so much internal havoc on myself, pressure where perhaps pressure wasn’t due, I can’t help but wonder if I haven’t taken exactly the right path in my healing. Lately I feel myself paying attention to things that I haven’t in the past. Realising strengths exist in me that I wouldn’t ever have believed a year ago. Perhaps this indirect route back to Me will be the best one in the end, I still don’t know.
What personal checks do you go through when you know you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to grieve in the right way, or in the right timeframe?
What part did time and your age play in making the decision (if you have) to try again?