Anyways, I did have a great realization today though, dealing with my loss of Hailey. So, I figured I'd share it. First off, I was telling my therapist how I sleep soooo much and often feel guilty about it. She reassured me that it's totally normal and okay, especially since my family and home life isn't lacking or suffering. That made me feel a little better. I've always been a "sleeper." I am not a morning person AT ALL and I LOVE naps, but it's gotten to be everyday and for several hours a day. It's always when Lexi is at school and Ava is napping too. Plus, my house is clean, things are done, etc. See, here I go again trying to justify my guilt. I guess if a professional is telling me that it's fine to nap as much as I need right now...then I need to enjoy it!
Along those lines, one of the reasons I nap so much is due to the grief that I feel on a daily basis. It is very lonely without Hailey around all day, especially when Ava is napping. Not only does the loneliness sometimes get overwhelming, but everything else does too. Everything is overwhelming to me right now. My mind is so full and anxious all the time, that my only way to escape it is to sleep...so that's a good thing.
One of the other things I've been seriously struggling with is feeling less needed and important. Now, before I start explaining this, I have to make the disclaimer that I am ONLY referring to myself and my life...NO ONE else. Everyone's normal and expectations for themselves are different, which is why I make that disclaimer. I wouldn't want to offend anyone with the way I feel. Now, that all being said, this is what I've discovered about myself:
After losing Hailey, I no longer feel "special" or "exceptional" as a mother. I went from having three children, one with special needs, to only having two that are "normal." Not to mention, a year ago, I had three children home most of the day (Lexi was in Kindergarten only half the day), and now I only have one child home all day, while my other is in school. I went from being so needed and proud of myself for being able to handle three children, maintain a clean and orderly house, keep happy, healthy, well-behaved children, volunteer in Lexi's classroom once a week, take Hailey to therapy 3 times a week, take Lexi to dance, take care of a newborn, serve in my church as a young women's teacher, as well as, deal with all Hailey's special needs. Now, not to boast or toot my own horn, but I was proud of myself. I felt like I was a little above the "norm." People would constantly compliment me on how they were amazed that I could do all that, and to be honest, I was amazed at myself sometimes too!
Now, as my therapist put it, (I'm going to call her Theresa...because she's seriously like Mother Theresa to me!) I'm trying to figure out an entirely new identity. Wow...doesn't that sound so official and professional??? But it is so true. I'm definitely busy in other ways, but not ways in which I feel like I'm needed and/or proud of myself. I went from all that above, to having one child home with me, while we both sleep half the day away. I realized that right now I really don't know who I am or what my role is.
I guess I experienced something similar to this when I first had Lexi and decided to quit my job teaching to stay home with her. I went from being a respected professional with a Master's Degree and job that required a lot of responsibility to being a stay at home mom. Now again...I'm hoping that I don't offend anyone by saying that, because after working a full-time job for many years and then becoming a stay at home mom for the past 7 years, I will personally say that staying home with your children is the most difficult and exhausting job in the world. It's just so disappointing that it's not nearly as respected in society as it should be. I still, after 7 years, want to tell people I'm a teacher, not a stay at home mom. I want people to know that I went to college and got my Master's Degree and have three kids, and own a home, and, etc. I don't know why I feel that that determines my self worth, but for some reason I struggle with that. It's funny too, because I don't feel that determines anyone else's self worth, just my own! For some reason, I look at other stay at home moms and wonder in amazement how they do it, but then look at myself and feel lazy and unimportant.
Anyways, it took me six years and three children to finally feel like I knew, again, who I was, what my role in life and society was, and to become proud of it. Now, it's all been taken away from me in an instant and I'm left sitting here wondering: What now? Who am I now? Am I now just part of the norm? Should I still be proud to only be raising two children instead of three? Do we have another baby to fill this gap and loneliness?
In some ways, I guess life has gotten slightly easier in the fact that I'm not constantly having to worry about Hailey and taking care of her needs. On the other hand, life has gotten immensely more difficult. The constant grief and longing for my baby girl back and my old life back is way more to handle and deal with than worrying about Hailey's health and well being. I miss her so much. I miss who I was when she was here. I miss our old family dynamics. I miss seeing her interact with her sisters. I miss being so frustrated with her, just to see her smile at me and have it all go away in an instant. I miss feeling needed. I miss feeling important. I miss feeling above the norm. I miss feeling proud of my family, my girls, my home, my life, myself.
I guess some of that may sound very selfish of me, but that's how I feel. Anyways, as I'm writing all this I just realized that I guess I do have more issues with my grief than I originally thought! My girls and husband need me more now than ever! My job at home is more important now than ever! So off to work I go on determining a new normal and identity for myself. Yuck...