It’s just never enough

Since I was a teenager words not usually thought of as polite have fairly easy crossed my tongue. When I became an adult they declined – because they weren’t appropriate in a classroom or among colleagues, mostly I guess. Plus I moved from a place that often competed for a position as “America’s worst place to live and raise children” to a pristine east coast college. I wanted to play the part. Still at times I lapsed. Never so often as I have this past year, however. Even if I’m not saying it aloud, it’s not a rarity for me to sit silently while my mind shouts phrases like, “F* F* F*!” or “Je*** F***** Ch***!” at no one in particular.

Samuel is doing well. Wonderfully. He’s so huge – probably around or above 13 pounds and 23 inches. I didn’t realize really how much so until we went to a friend’s house last night and saw how tiny her healthy-sized baby looked next to ours. I was a nervous wreck before we left for her house. I knew she’d want to talk babies a lot and I still feel strange doing that. I handled it remarkably well, I think. Didn’t even feel bad once talking about nursing shirts and Samuel’s eating and sleeping habits.

From the outside I look like I’ve joined a new group. No longer just a mother of a dead baby.

Those of us who have recently or will soon reach the year mark might wonder when exactly it will start to get better. The first few months were a living hell. Then I reached this point where life became more bearable. I could show my face in public, even converse. Now with Samuel here, I could even call myself happy. I guess what I’m wanting though, is what Tash described earlier today. The old me. For the sadness to just go away, forever. I’m not stupid enough to think that will ever happen completely. I can’t keep myself from wishing it would though.

Because the sadness sucks so much from my life. It brings old demons back to the surface. It makes old interests dull. I feel like in addition to everything else, I actually need to dedicate time to forcing myself to remember why I used to love certain things.

Josh and I have a plan. He has to finish by April. I need to finish by December. We’re splitting the work day into sections, with him getting the first half and the evening. I get the afternoon.

Hopefully Samuel will cooperate most days and at some point in the spring (I imagine around the time Josh picks up the final bound volume of his dissertation) I’ll stop and look back from a point of a little less sadness and lot more accomplished.

Maybe my mind will quiet down and start working with a less offensive vocabulary as well.

8 responses to “It’s just never enough

  1. eh, vocabulary is ok, I think. It can even be artistic and expressive and overall necessary. But I do hope you can find that old spark. I am looking for mine too.

  2. You will never be the old you. Our life experiences change us too much to just go back.

    But would it comfort you if i said that if Natan had lived, that you would never be the old you either?

    Thing is, you can be something great anyway. Take that old interest and start bit by bit and sooner or later you will find a new you. And if the new you occasionally swears? No biggie to me. I do find it interesting that you consider it swearing to say JC’s name. I don’t thin that’s a swear word for a Jew hon. Now for me? Weee, straight to hell fer sure.

  3. I am so not the person to speak about finishing a Ph.D. program, but I hope that having the deadlines and motivation to move on with life will help you get back into the work.

  4. Finding a job and longterm stability sound like wonderful and ultimately attainable goals, even if, right now, it may sometimes be hard to muster up enthusiasm for the process that will eventually get you there. And I’m hoping that once Josh is finished (and April doesn’t seem all that far away), things will be a little easier than they are now.

  5. Niobe, I’m not sure the “April not seeming that far away” part is much of a comfort, seeing as how it’s making me unbearable to live with right now.

  6. I am very schitzoid with the swearing now: around Big A and Little A I’m preschool appropriate, but once they go to bed it’s like I’m channeling a drunk, p*ssed-off trucker. I figure language is a more benign pressure valve for daily stress than vodka, so I’m ok with it.

    I agree with Aurelia on the point that even if Natan had lived, your heart would be less wounded, but your life and body would not be things you felt completely positively about now, regardless. I had the same sort of career-related dilemmas and general body issues you describe after Big A’s birth, and at that point I’d had no pregnancy woes at all (yet).

    I’m not saying Natan’s death doesn’t complicate what you are feeling now, because of course it does. I just saying that in my personal experience, the transition of adding a living child to my home was very, very uneven: great joy alternating with difficulties that felt like damage rather than “personal growth.”

    On a more practical note: Must you really start back at your research and writing so soon after Samuel’s birth? During pregnancy, starting after 6-12 weeks can sound fine. But a lot of people I know (me included) needed more like 6-12 months to get back into the work swing. And life was extra harsh when we tried to force it earlier.

    Just something to think about, if delaying a return to work is at all possible.

  7. Hey, i hope you get to read this at some point even though given your post above there are more important things going on.

    Yes, you can finish your PhD, and you will. As far as finding the motivation to love your field again, i cannot speak to that. Almost five years after Nicolas’ death and currently up for tenure, i have not found that spark again. Which is not to say i didn’t publish some shlock in the meantime, but yeah, it’s all just bullshit anyway.

    So what i am going to do, when i have time to breathe, is to change my area of interest a bit, and try to make it more interesting to *me*. Not sure how, but it must be possible, right? Because starting over — i considered that, in the wake of Nicolas’ death, but to me it seemed like throwing out all those years was just not the right thing for me.

    You know, when Samuel is better we should get together and have a long talk about this issue.

  8. B, I want to just run up to you and hug you. And I am not a very expressive person, so you know how much I mean it.

    When I finally got a take-home baby, the first night home from the hospital, I was sitting there, hormones and all, and had a little cry about being such a pathetic graduate student. “I’ll never finish my PhD,” I told my mom, “and my child will think I am a loser!” And then we had a laugh. I defended just under a year later – more or less the way you are planning to. Little by little, without great enthusiasm on my part, my dissertation did come together.

    It’s worth finishing. It didn’t quite seem so at the time, but it is. You don’t need to get all fired up about yoru work to do it, either. A crawl towards the goal is just fine.

    I am also here to talk about it any time you want. Again, big huge hugs to you.

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