I’ve made an observation about myself. There are parts of our preemie journey that continue to fester like raw wounds. I can say, without a doubt, grief does not bring out the best in me.
Out of the blue, I was rude to someone after the preemie play date the other day. I am not proud of it.
As we preemie moms prepared to leave, another group of kids and a mother entered the play facility. I was struggling to put on Charlie’s socks. Frequently, one or all of her toes splay in an odd direction and they catch on the sock. I said to the other preemie moms, “If any of you have any tips on putting socks on spastic feet, I’m listening.”
After she eavesdropped, the new arrival non preemie mom incessantly babbled about her choice not to wear socks and to wear sandals. At least, I think that was her point. I wasn’t really listening. I was busy biting my tongue.
I wanted to yell, “Shut up, just shut up! Do you know how hard it is for us to find shoes to fit her tiny feet, hold her orthotics, AND provide the needed support? I wish she could wear sandals! I wish I didn’t even have to ask for sock advice!”
Instead, I was blunt and rude with my reply, “That won’t work for us, she has spastic diplegia.” That was my way of ending the conversation. I, immediately, felt ashamed afterwards for snapping.
My terse reply was not really due to anger. Nor, was it directed at that random mom. I was envious the woman got to dress her kids in cute sandals. I wanted to do the same. Additionally, I was saddened that Charlie is going to be two very soon and is still having issues. Mostly, my rudeness was due to grief.
Another example of this occurs anytime I visit or discuss Charlie’s first NICU (the open NICU). I cannot objectively discuss or visit that place. I am bitter towards it.
I’ve been asked by different organizations to volunteer in the NICU. I would love to help out but, I decline every time. While I can visit the hospital with no problems, the NICU is a different story. It sends me over the edge.
I become extremely irritable and upset by everything about the NICU. I know it’s not logical but it’s how I feel. However, I don’t have a problem with other NICUs. Just that particular one. I suppose it extracts grief I still harbor over my losses.
How do I handle these moments? Not very well. Nevertheless, I have come up with an idea of something I’m going to try in the future. Rather than get worked up or curt, I’m going to take a breath and say, “I’m not ready for this conversation.”
Yes, it does sound like an odd thing to say. Especially, if it is a non sequitur (as it would have been if used in the sandal conversation). However, those who matter will understand. Besides, I’d rather be weird than unnecessarily rude to strangers.