Six months. A half of one year. 182 days. The worst of my life.
When I reread my previous posts, I notice that I keep mentioning making it to the other side. What six months has taught me is there is no “other side”. I don’t think there will ever be an “other side” to this grief thing.
What I do know is in the past six months I went through hell and back. And I am still alive. That’s progress. Right around 3-4 months I hit a wall. I crept through a slow-moving fog. The initial shock started to wear off and that is also about the time my hormones went into a disastrous firework show. At this point, I learned what depression feels like. Not the, “oh no my BF broke up with me I’m sad”, but full blown, I don’t know if I can live through this life another day, depressed as fuck. It was dark. I was scared. It was hard. I hope I never go back to that place. I went through so many emotions and thoughts in such a short period of time that I was starting to feel psychotic.
During that time, I hurt my back trying to get back into running to lose my extra baby weight. It seemed like a death sentence at the time. I had a half marathon planned, with my ultimate goal being a full marathon in June. On top of those dreams being shattered, the extra weight every day was just another reminder of losing Benjamin. As if I didn’t already have enough reminders. I blame the back issues partially on the epidural (I’ve never had back problems before). That felt like salt on a wound. I felt pathetic. It made me hate myself and my body. Your body is so pathetic that you couldn’t even keep a baby alive long enough to bring him into this world. And now your body is so worthless that you can’t even run anymore. Your body hates you and you hate your body. So so so much self-hate. I’m telling you, things got really dark.
I don’t know when the light switched on or how the fog started to dissipate but thank the fucking stars that it did. I remember a specific night sitting at the dinner table with Scott, sharing how sad I was. I remember telling him, “I don’t want to feel like this, but I don’t know what to do I can’t help it. I am always the positive person. I am the one who tells people things will get better, you will be okay. And now I am the person who can’t see how things will ever get better. I am the negative, miserable person that I normally can’t stand”. Touché, universe, touché. I now know an empathy that can only be known through experience.
Once my back was hurt, in April I started to go to physical therapy. Right around 4 months postpartum. Awkwardly, my pregnancy got brought up with my physical therapist. I ended up being glad that it did (another story for another time). I felt like once she knew the gist of my story and saw me show up every day ready to work, we just had this sort of understanding that it meant more to me to be there than other people. Physical therapy and some of the employees there helped me more than they will ever know. How do you write a passionate thank you letter to people who don’t even know your story, telling them how they helped save your life, without seeming like a total creep? Anyways, I think that helped give me the boost and support I needed, along with my husband committing to drinking less and eat as healthy as possible. Even on the weekends.
I lost enough weight to feel good about myself again. My pre-pregnancy jeans started to fit! Within that fourth month I was able to start running again. Slowly, but surely. Instead of the initial half marathon, Scott & I did a 5k. That support from him running with me gave me the extra motivation I needed. I could see and feel the progress. It felt tangible. That helped. I am so thankful to my 1-month postpartum self for signing up for these races back in January. I set goals for myself, even in the midst of a crisis because I knew my future self would need that. Side note: for those grieving or for those who one day will grieve, remember this. Set goals, plan things to look forward to. If you feel like you’ve lost everything, you need something to keep you going. Sometimes that one thing no matter how big or small is your only point of light that will pull you from the darkness. It will feel stupid and silly, and you will feel hopeless, but your future self will thank you.
As May rolled around, the fog felt more like just a cloudy day, where the sun peaked out just long enough to reap some positive vibes. My health insurance cut off my physical therapy around this time, which in and of its self almost led me to have a mental breakdown. I cried. I almost gave up. I didn’t know how I was going to keep progressing without a PT & team to work with every week. Then, I researched, “How to train for a marathon in 1 month”. Scott called me crazy. It seemed crazy, but there were plenty of guides and people online who had accomplished it. I told myself if I could walk without pain after my training runs then I was going to keep moving forward. The goal was to run 115 miles in just 29 days. I ran 95 miles. I did it at my pace. It wasn’t easy, but I got up every day and I worked towards my goal.
And so here we are… Six months. A half of one year. 182 days. The worst of my life.
Yesterday exactly 6 months ago my body went into labor. Yesterday I ran my first full Marathon. Holy shit. I FUCKING DID IT! My little body and soul, I did it all on my own! My goal was to finish in 5 hours or even to just finish it at all. I ended up finishing in 4 hours 41 minutes. It feels so empowering saying this about my self and it makes me so emotional to see how far I have come over these 6 months. It feels like a 180 in 180 days. Each single day was one single degree of turning into who I am today. Each day I felt a different emotion and each day was hard, but if I didn’t wake up each day and take care of business, where would I be today?
As I wake up this morning, 6 months postpartum, thinking back to giving birth to Benjamin a half year ago, waking up that Monday morning headed to work, being scared and feeling uneasy, it seems just like yesterday but at the same time it feels like a different life, not mine. It feels weird to even be able to admit this next line. As I wake up this morning, I love my body and I love myself. Sure my body has failed me in some ways. In some ways it isn’t the same as it use to be. But this body has carried my own life for 28 years, it carried me 26.2 straight miles yesterday, and it did carry the life of another human being.
This journey is far from over. This I know. But I now also know that there is hope. There can be a future in this life after losing a baby. After losing Benjamin. Something 6 months ago, I never thought I’d say.