Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Approaching eight months. Nathaniel would have been eight months on the 25th. 

About three weeks ago I started having heart palpitations. It happened, for the first time, when I was laying in bed. My heart made one large thunk, then a series of little tink, tink, tinks, and then paused for a long time. It kept going erratically like this for a little while longer, and finally settled down into a normal rhythm. 

It was scary. This has never happened to me before. But I know Kate said something about having heart palpitations. 

I started having these episodes several times a day. My heart would just start beating erratically, and my arms and hands would numb. My mind would start to race, trying to figure out what to do, if I should go to the emergency room. 

David's birthday party came and went. It was *beyond* stressful leading up to it. But once it was over it was a success and the guests, and David, had a good time. 

The following morning we went to a Bar Mitzvah. I'd never been to one, and I cried several times during the ceremony. The worst part was seeing my friend's baby, born only a few months before Nathaniel. We would walk together when we were pregnant. I held and cuddled her baby while I was still pregnant, before we knew about Nathaniel's condition. I thought our babies would be friends. 

And when I saw this nearly one-year-old, I entered into that white tunnel of searing pain. 

At the luncheon, the baby was sleeping in her car seat. My friend came up to me and held my hand across the table. I buried my face with my other hand and sobbed. I hate public displays of emotion. Hate. Hate. Hate. Humiliated. 

She asked if I wanted her to take her baby and sit at another table. I said no, that's ridiculous. I am ready for things to be okay. I need things to be okay. 

They're not okay. 

At our table, we had two other babyloss families (with many years between now and their losses), and then the friend with her nearly one-year old and her older boy. I don't think it helped to know that the other babyloss mamas knew exactly what I was going through. I think it made it harder for me to perform being okay. I felt transparent.  

And then I felt like that crazy woman whose baby died and who cries all of the time.  

I should have stayed at home. 

That night, I had a three hour long episode of irregular heart beats. I honestly thought that I might die, and David and I talked about going to the ER, but then what? They hook me up to all of the monitoring devices, try to figure out what is wrong, and then find something that is wrong? Or find nothing that is wrong? Which would be worse? I know the irregular heart beats are about Nathaniel. And then I'd be a crazy woman hooked up to machines in an emergency room with my heart beating erratically and there is really nothing that they can do.  

And I figured if I was destined to die I was probably going to die. 

After that night, Saturday the 10th, I surrendered. I gave in.

I've been trying trying trying to do my part to make sure everything is okay. And it's not. 

My current working metaphor is that the grief has been like something holding me under water, and I have been fighting and fighting and fighting to come up for air. And there have been days where I have felt like I could breathe - Nathaniel flavored air, but air. But after the stress and the party and the Bar Mitzvah and the heart palpitations, I just gave up. 

And it's okay. 

So, for the last 10 days, I haven't left the house much. I thought I was grieving well and taking good care of myself by getting regular massage and acupuncture and exercise and going to therapy and the groups and processing and talking and writing. 

But now I'm not going anywhere. 

I'm crawling the line between grief and depression on my belly and elbows. 

I'm trying to stay out of bed during the day. I will sit or lay on the couch. I drink tea. I draw. I eat when I'm hungry. 

Allowing myself to do less. Nothing, if possible. 

Being held under water and not fighting it. Making the effort to not fight it.

The heart palpitations have stopped for now. The leader of my support group said that the palpitations are anxiety. 

And that's where I am. Not knowing whether the loss is going to kill me, or if I'm going to grow some gills. 




  1. Oh, Suzanne, I want to beat my chest and wail for you, and Nathaniel, too.

    I know heart palpitations can be scary--I've had them at various points in my life but especially when I was pregnant with Molly. It turns out that my electrolytes were wonky. Yours could be anxiety and stress related, but it might be a good idea to have your doctor do a work-up.

    I hate that people are so hesitant to tell their doctors things because they are afraid of getting shamed. Unfortunately, it does often happen, especially to women. If you have that kind of doctor, the type who would give you a hard time for sharing concerns, then he or she is an ass and needs to be kicked to the curb.

    Anyway, I relate so much to the question of whether the loss is going to kill you or if you'll grow some gills. I'm trying to adapt, but it could still go either way at this point.

    As I type this, I'm sending so much love to you. And I'd make you a strong, steaming cup of tea and give you a big hug, too, if I could. xoxo

  2. I'm so sorry Suzanne. I relate to so much of what you say here.

    In those first few months after Liam died I had such panic attacks. I remember calling Justin at work one day telling him that he might have to come home to take me to the hospital because my heart was beating so fast that I could hardly catch my breath. My doctor gave me a prescription for something to help with the anxiety and eventually the panic attacks eased and I didn't need to take the medication any more. But last week my panic attacks came back. I'm crawling that line between grief and depression too. I thought that I was grieving well and taking good care of myself but nearly 8 months later and I feel like i'm back in those first months after Liam died.

    I'm giving in too. Allowing myself to feel every bit of what I need to feel and not forcing anything. Just trying to get through it. We will get through it. We'll grow gills if that's what we need to do.

    I wish I could sit with you and sip strong tea. I wish I could give you a big hug too. x

  3. This post was very timely for me - this week I've just done an ECG and a 24 hour heart monitor test, together with various blood tests -all for the very same thing - really scarey heart palpitations. Irregular, exhausting, feeling like my heart will burst palpitations. I expect everything to come back fine, and just to be told that it's anxiety... but as soon as I mentioned it to my consultant, she insisted that we check it out, just to be sure. I'm lucky that she's very thorough.

    It is a horrible feeling, and I find it amazing how much influence the emotional side of things can affect the physical.

    All this to say - I'm so sorry that you're feeling this way. I don't have any sage advice. But I hope it helps to know that you're not alone and that you're not going crazy... Maybe our hearts are just frantically beating because they are finally realising that our babies just aren't coming back...

  4. Wow...yes, anxiety...we whose child has die, have it. It just manifests itself in different ways. I know one mama who wouldn't be able to breathe, I have experienced this. She would have to pull over when she was driving. I am in constant fear of death of my loved ones and obsessively perseverate on it. You know you can get anti anxiety meds. It is not like an antidepressent that you have to take daily. Anti anxiety meds you can take only when you feel anxiety. Just so you know.
    I love that your friend held your hand. I know her heart hurts for you. It wasn't anyones fault that Nathanial died and her baby didn't...it just makes it hard for everyone. It is okay that you are the sad crazy lady. BECAUSE your SON DIED! We just keep going and ride the lows out until they pass enough to come up for air. I am sending you so much love.

  5. It sounds like you are doing pretty awesome to me. So glad you're cutting yourself a bit of slack. You can usually delay a breakdown, you can even try to outrun it, like a ship in front of a storm, but finally all you can do is batten down the hatches and decide which angle to face it from.

    I hope you will continue to give yourself as much space as you can, and permission to not be okay. That is what gives you gills, my dear. Permission.