August 5, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth." - Ludwig Borne 
I am in bed, under the blankets. I am laying on my left side, staring blankly into the distance, or rather into the window. At an angle, the window is about maybe three feet away from my face and it is brightly lit outside, shining with summer heat.

As I stare off into the distance, I could see and hear the blinds being blown back and forth by the summer breeze, hitting the windowpane as the blinds make its way back to neutral.

I feel numb and tears starts to roll down my cheeks. 

In the midst of my blank stare, I realize that the sides - especially the left side - of my face is wet and that I am crying.

I don't hear any thoughts in my mind and can't feel a thing, except exhaustion. Feeling "tired" has become a daily thing. I could sleep for hours on end and never feel fully rested, or satisfied. I get little sleep most days and some days, I sleep too much.

I don't know how long it had been since the blank stare took over, but know that it wasn't longer than a few minutes - I think.

All of sudden, I hear a familiar chirping; the sound of my husband's car when he hits the "lock" button on his remote. My blank stare is over and I am trying to dry my eyes and cheeks. I wait and listen for the sound of the front gate and door opening, but there is silence.

My mind thought:

It's probably the neighbor across the street (they have a car that has the same chirping sound).

I was relieved. I didn't want him knowing that I was crying. I wiped my face and braced myself for nothing.

But my mind was wrong, it was him. All in a few seconds, I hear the front gate and door opening. Then I hear his footsteps climbing the stairs, the baby gate opening and closing, and his voice greeting (nearly) eighteen-month-old Jazmine, Elijah's cousin.

I am no longer numb, emotions rush through my veins, my heart starts palpitating, as if shocked back to life. I am unprepared to face him. He talks to Jazmine for a moment, then tries to turn the door knob, realizes it's locked and uses his key. I duck my head into the blanket and hide; my (almost) attempt to run to the door, open it, and greet him from a day of work, failed. I had no energy to pretend that I was okay, nothing happened while he was gone.

He enters the room, closes the door; there is a silence. His view of my body under the blankets probably suggest that I am still asleep, even though it was already passed noon. He walks toward my right side and realizes that I am awake, hops on top of me, and says "Hi."

I watch as his facial expression change from cheery to worry. I hadn't exactly wiped away the grief in my eyes and dried my face all the way. I don't know if he had actually verbalized the questions, but I could hear:

"What's wrong?" 

"Are you okay?" 

"Why are crying?" 

Hearing those questions in my mind makes me even more sad. I no longer have the power to hold back tears and try to hide my face once more. I don't want him seeing me cry. We have been together for over six years and I still cannot find the courage to let him see how vulnerable losing Elijah and not getting pregnant makes me.

I never liked being a sobbing mess when I'm around him, especially when I am sad about Elijah.  

My husband joins me under the blankets; I force him to stay behind me. I don't want to face him. But he is relentless and hops over to my left, where all of my tears seem to gather, and tries to get a good look at my face.

I think he hugs me under the blankets. I don't remember because the tears flow and I can't stop them. All of my focus is on stopping the tears and not letting him see my face.

He asks me why I am sad, I tell him:

"Instagram is depressing."

He thinks he understand and goes on chattering about how people post "news" on Instagram, but nothing to really solve the world's problems. People only highlight all of the ugliness in the world, but never propose some kind of solution, or do anything about it. The ugliness makes life on earth even more depressing, hence why he thought Instagram was depressing.

That wasn't what I had meant, but agreed. Why are people adding more unnecessary hate, anger, and fear? Why can't people be more proactive, or at the least, hopeful?

When Elijah died, Instagram was my first platform for healing grief. I posted many things about the loss and stillbirth and attracted mothers who had experienced the same. It seemed as though someone would always "somehow find" my Instagram and loved how I would openly share my grief. Many of them would message me words of thanks for doing what I was doing.

Months after losing Elijah, Instagram became a source of grief. 

It seemed as though losing Elijah became a magnet for posts on (live) babies, pregnant women, and pregnancy announcements. All over the "explore" page, there would be photos of a newborn wrapped in a hospital blanket, some smiling infant with big eyes, a maternity shoot of a woman holding her gigantic belly, or a comparison of the pre- and postpartum body (with the mother holding the baby).

The worst of it all were posts of pregnancy announcements, which had all looked the same. Nowadays, the trend of announcing a pregnancy was posting a picture of a white or black letter board, with some funny or clever way to say, "We're having a baby." Of course, it included a sonogram or two and a due date.

I don't know why, but when you lose a baby, it's like the world works against you and uses people and random things to make you more sad. You, yourself, become a magnet to a mother-to-be or a baby in a stroller.

Instagram, a platform that I would use to express grief and sometimes to getaway from grief, INDUCED more grief.

(Related Read: Waiting To Cross Over)

My loss mom friends also became a source of pain as one-by-one, they were chosen and became pregnant with their rainbow babies, while I still had an empty womb and empty arms. One-by-one, I had to say "goodbye" because I couldn't bear the announcement. 

And with each announcement, the questions to God re-emerges: 

"When will it be me?"

"How much longer do I have to wait?"

"Will I ever have my baby?" 

"Did you forget about me?"

I follow some family members and friends and every time they post photos of their babies or babies of their families and friends, I become even more sad for myself. I get even more depressed. Most of the time, I scroll past it, then scroll back up to "like" it. Just because I don't know why, but I did it anyway, as some sort of "noble piece of action." 

I feel like that's what a lot of people on social media do nowadays; they post things just for the "likes," especially when it comes to posts about what they're wearing, how they look, what they're eating, what they have, what they're doing, where they're at, who they're with, and most of all, what I don't have - the baby in my belly or the baby in my arms. 

Nowadays, pregnancy on Instagram is glorified. All of these beautiful women in tight dresses and pretty makeup, holding onto their future inside of their bellies makes pregnancy look so natural and easy. As if pregnancy always leads to a baby in the end, to take home. 

Meanwhile many of us, like myself, no longer view pregnancy in that same luxury, safety, or guarantee.

You can't put on a tight dress and pretty makeup on pregnancy loss. It just doesn't work that way.

Too often, people glorify the beauty of pregnancy, but forget to bring to light pregnancy and baby loss, which happens all the time to too many. Too many also forget that pregnancy and baby loss still makes a woman, a mother worthy of being loved and respected as a mother. 

Very few glorify pregnancy and baby loss, not that it needs any glorifying. There is nothing sparkly and glorifying about losing a baby; it's rather... inevitable. It is the norm on social media to share photos of newborns and not dead babies, WHY? I just wish that there was an equality to pregnancy and baby loss on social media; that is why I became a blogger. 

There was this one day that I was so upset about losing Elijah and having to deal with my period (and not getting pregnant) that I began "blocking" every random Instagram account that posted a photo of something baby or pregnancy related. I was angrily determined to cut it out because it was so unfair that I had suffered a loss and couldn't fall pregnant. I was angry with the world for further causing me pain and angry with myself because I was broken. 

But no matter how many I blocked, the posts still had a way of appearing. It was useless. 

It was like trying to smash a cockroach, but no matter how many times I tried to, it wouldn't die. WHY?! 

Sometimes, I would think that "blocking" these random people was "blocking" my way to having a baby. I was only causing myself more distress and self-sabotaging my own hopes for the future. And so, I would "unblock" them or stop myself from wasting more of my time and energy. People were going to have babies, whether I liked it or not, and there was nothing I could do to get away from it.

It is like that quote: "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." - Buddha

That is why this whole summer, I haven't spent any time at the beach. It is because I don't want to see a woman with a belly or a baby. The beach is too precious; it was a place that I would visit when things were rough, when my husband and I were not on good terms, or when I was so stressed out about school, work, or life. 

After losing Elijah, I would go there to sit and cry about how I missed Elijah and wished things had turned out differently. Yet, as time passed, I went to the beach less often because I didn't want to run into more emotional triggers. 

Sometimes, I would stay in the bedroom all day because the world was safer. And then, I'd go onto Instagram and lay in bed and realize that I wasn't as safe as I'd thought. 

I don't know why, but I feel like Instagram is a toxic place. Everyone pretends to have a happy, perfect life. And if you're going through a tough time, you'd either have to be in the hospital or dead for people to notice how real your struggles are. No one wants to show their vulnerability, and if someone does, there is always someone who says that it is all for attention. 

After I told my husband about my whole Instagrief, I was contemplating on deleting my Instagram page or at the least, taking a break from it. Facebook was "safer" in that I had joined groups for the same reasons I had avoided life outside of the bedroom. I just needed a safe place to grieve. 

Later that day, we went for a walk. During the walk, my husband explained that when he was hugging me under the blankets that he had brushed his hand on my bottom, checking to see if I had on a pad. I didn't. He was wondering why I was sad and thought it was probably from getting my period. It wasn't. 

A part of me feels comforted knowing that my husband knows how hard it is for me to bleed after loss. The other part of me feels helpless because I don't know how to make myself feel better about it or tell him what he could do to help. I know that he isn't sure what he could about it either. 

My period app currently says that I am 7 days away from a visit from aunt flo. I am not prepared if this is an accurate estimation, yet, I am not prepared at all to endure a seventeenth loss. 

(Related Read: Sixteen Losses)

If I am forced to, at least it'll be a tiny bit easier, since I have decided to take a break from Instagram. I don't need anymore Instagrief in my life.

For now, I am seeking refuge.

With love,

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