The moon was completely full when I spotted it one morning at 6am. It peeked at me through the clouds demanding I take notice. I wondered what it had install.
Someone had parked in my usual car space out the front of my early morning training room. A indication that someone inside wasn’t from the normal Thursday clan.
It wasn’t immediately apparent who the new comer was and then I caught up. It happened to be the social worker assigned to me when I was in hospital having my baby.
It had been a year and a half since I last saw her but the sad memories rushing back suddenly made it feel more recent.
It was weird seeing her in a place other than hospital and in her best Lorna Jane. As fate would have it we shared the same trainer. In all the places she could work out she was in the exact place I was. It was more than a coincidence.
Seeing her made me feel incredibly distressed. Obviously the pain that I harboured from the experience where our lives coincided wasn’t far below the surface. It was obviously the right time to investigate her role in it all.
I don’t think she remembered me. If she did, she certainly didn’t show it. My trainer introduced us oblivious to our connection. She greeted me like any polite person would. Funny how I remembered her in explicit detail. She was unfortunately associated with my worst pain and horror.
So that’s what the full moon had installed… It wanted me to look at something difficult I had happily repressed.
The first time the social worker and I met, she sat next to my hospital bed in ICU and presented me with images of my tiny undersized baby born at 24 weeks. I didn’t meet him on the day of his birth because I was sick and in recovery from the c-section and at the mercy of the nursing staff. It must have been decided that if I couldn’t go to him then he would come to me in the form of a few 6×4 pictures.
Immediately after showing me the images she asked me how I felt about them. I was distressed of course and for so many reasons all I could do was cry. He looked so small and fragile and the photographs made his transparent skin look very red. My poor little man. How could I have done that to him?
I felt a range of fears and emotions and wasn’t able to formulate a coherent response at the time. To be honest, I felt extremely confronted having a stranger probe me when I was so raw and delicate. I went along with it all though, like the good compliant girl I thought I should be. I didn’t have the courage to say that it wasn’t a good time for me to open up. In fact I was ready for a complete shut down. I understand full well that she had a job to perform but the situation was utterly terrifying.
With the clarity of hindsight and the passing of time, I realised it wasn’t necessary to see images of my son right at that moment. In fact those images are now in a box along with his other things that are too painful to look at. The professional images that I have on display and that I love, I look at every day. The sweetest one that captured his adorable, perfect little toes and feet resides in my wallet.
The images she presented me with were clinical and confronting. They represented the severity of the situation and they were very tough to look at. So of course they brought up horrific negative emotions.
Later on it occurred to me that I didn’t or don’t remember giving anyone permission to photograph my son. When I saw the images I felt completely disconnected from him and it broke me.
I delivered a severely premature baby whilst I was unconscious and he was immediately whisked away to a neonatal unit floors away from me. I couldn’t even comprehend where in the hospital he was in relation to where I was.
Who was this person showing me images of my son? Why had she met him before I had? It was so completely messed up.
I know that hospitals provide a much needed and important support service to families like ours but honestly, it was a lot to take in. The circle of mum, dad and baby had been severed by all the necessary intervention that took place and it was just another event that broke my heart and caused me a lot of anger and pain.
Perhaps a better approach would have been to wait until I was out of ICU and in the maternity ward, which occurred only a few hours later. Or we could have chatted after I had met my son in the flesh.
I was living and processing the situation as best as I could a minute at a time and I certainly wasn’t in a state to talk about it. Particularly not with someone that I hadn’t developed any kind of trust or bond with.
Our brief liaison set up an unfavourable reaction in my mind and I couldn’t shake it after that. I know she was just doing her job. I know she was also doing the best that she could and I know that she showed up to support me and for that I am very thankful.
It sounds silly and it probably is but the next few times I saw her in hospital I pretended to be well adjusted and not in any need for support just so I could be left alone. I was supported by my family and the nursing staff and even though I said that I would, I honestly had no interest in attending the mindfulness sessions with a group of other mums in the neonatal ward. I just wanted to sit with my baby in the quietest corner of the room and watch over and pray for him.
She was there on the day that my boy passed and kindly asked if there was anything she could do. But there wasn’t anything. This situation had to play out regardless of her involvement. She was another player in the game and she rolled the dice and took her turn. What happened to me was just how it was meant to unfold and I don’t think that either she or I could have done anything different to achieve a better outcome.
I used to be a little shocked to find out that I had jealousy or anger or other uncomfortable emotions bubbling away but they are a necessary part of our existence. We have to feel our feelings and process them and put them in their rightful place.
What happened to me sucked and not everyone around me acted flawlessly. I sure as hell didn’t act flawlessly. I did what I had to do to survive and that’s ok.
Anger is the ugly stuff that no one wants to look at. It says nasty things, its jealous, it’s mad as hell and it thinks everything is unfair and bullshit and horrible. Anger is the stuff that finally breaks you open though and you want to be open. You want to shine a torch onto every dark emotion so you can call out to them by name. It’s transformational stuff. It’s waking you up.
Feeling loss shakes us apart and from that beautiful place of complete destruction we get to rebuild. It brings you to your knees so you can finally exhale. You no longer have to hold it all together. You no longer have to pretend that it’s ‘all right’ because it’s not all right. What happened was awful and it needs to be acknowledged as so.
You have to allow yourself to feel it all. Express it, write about it, paint it, grow it, live it, sing it or play it. You have to do whatever you can so that you feel it completely and then release it. Feel the space as you let it go and then let it silently move away from you. Then bask in the knowing that what is left behind is perfectly whole. In your beautiful and flawed human state you are still perfectly and wonderfully whole.
Maybe I would have reached the same conclusion if I had attended the mindfulness sessions, who knows. What I do know is that we show up to teach each other what we need to learn. That sometimes people come into our lives to expand us, to harass us into growth and there is no greater teacher than love. People have to really love us and be committed to our personal development to walk those hard roads with us. I thank the social worker for the part she had to play and for showing up for me during the most difficult time of my life.
The situation taught me that intuitively, I know exactly what I need and I can live through difficult moments as well as I can. I have always looked at authority figures as people who have all the answers. It’s time to look within and trust that I have all the answers. I need to follow my own advice and guidance and intelligence system and know when to ask for help when I have exhausted my own knowledge or become too deep in the mire.
My son gave me an enormous amount of love and apparently decided that he was going to set up a series of lessons that I had to learn and acknowledge. I wonder where he got his bossiness from? Couldn’t possibly have come from me… He is a master and my love for him is the most incredibly Divine gift.