Note to Self: Don’t Look at Me

It is customary in the Jewish faith to cover mirrors in the house of the mourners as a way to prevent vanity. While we’re not worrying about that custom, there’s a part of me that wants to cover my body so that I don’t have to look at it, or see what remains of the growing body I was so proud of.

I caught my first glimpse on Wednesday morning at the hospital, when the nurse was wrapping, no binding, my chest with an ace bandage to try to prevent and protect me from the inevitable. It was then, that I saw the flab of the belly that just the day before was round and firm and growing. Of my belly button that Double A had put on “pop watch,” excited for the day when the inny became an outy. Of my eyes that were now puffy, hollow and empty.

Home we came, empty arms, broken hearts and fucked up minds. The shower I so desperately needed became a prison I was forced to go into. Don’t let the water hit your breasts, they told me. Don’t look down, I tell myself. The usual warmth and calm of a shower has become a necessary, rushed procedure filled with tears and panic.

I’ve spent the days since struggling to breathe. The tightness I feel in my chest and heart is compounded by the tightness I feel from this bandage or multiple sports bras. Keep it tight, they told me. Keep it on at all times, they said. Just keep breathing, I tell myself.

I rush through this morning ritual mindlessly, and then am faced with trying to find something that fits, that preferably isn’t maternity wear. Yesterday I even tried straightening my naturally curly hair. Maybe if I don’t look like myself, I don’t have to be me.

The milk started coming in last night, and by the time I woke this morning, I was huge and in pain. Double A analogized it to a guy getting blue balls, so I guess I finally understand what that’s like. Off to the grocery store I went at 7:30 this morning in search of cabbage and relief. Yet when I was checking out, the realization that this 3-pound cabbage weighed more than our twins combined, pushed me over the edge…once again. Insult, meet injury. Salt, meet the big gaping wound.

Add to that, the fact that not only can I not look at my body, but I’m afraid to touch it. I was in the habit of holding and rubbing my belly, and talking to the babies. Telling them that I, and so many other people, were so excited to meet them healthy in February. And as I started feeling their little movements, it actually felt like they could hear me and were talking back. There are times when I think I still feel that movement, and for a split second, has me thinking that our babies are still here. That they’re somehow OK. But then I realize that it is just my uterus and my body trying to heal and go back to normal…whatever that means.

Don’t look down, I tell myself. Just keep breathing.

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5 thoughts on “Note to Self: Don’t Look at Me

  1. The torture of losing one’s children is compounded by the physical reminders. To say it’s cruel is a huge understatement. Please know that I continue to keep you, A and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. hey there,
    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. I was there with my son last february, and nothing is worse than those physical reminders. I still have stretch marks from him that I see every day.
    But one thing you can do – there are pills you can take to stop lactation. I was given them so I didn’t have to deal with that end. Please ask your doctor about those. It will at least take away one painful thing.
    Sending you a huge hug. You will get through this. It will get easier.

  3. I am so very sorry for each of your losses; it is cruelly unfair for you to be suffering this yet again. To echo Mo’s suggestion about easing the lactation, I have read that large amounts of mint and/or sage tea can dry up milk – and also Benadryl/diphenhydramine (OTC, so you wouldn’t need a ‘script). Glow in the Woods also has some suggestions – http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-stop-lactation/. I hope the community gathers and you’re able to feel as supported and loved as possible – we are abiding with you, and are here to listen to any and everything you need to say.

  4. Pingback: 7 Weeks and 1 Day Later | Will CarryOn

  5. Thank you for sharing this post in the Creme de la Creme. It was brave of you to write and brave of you to share. I’m so sorry for your losses. I remember similar feelings after losing my son. And also feeling so angry at my body for failing him and I.

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