As i woke up this morning, trying to gather the courage to post a before/after photo of me as the mother of Paul, i sleepily looked through my facebook feed. It has not been the safest place for me recently, a feeling that, i am sure, is familiar to anyone grieving or going through difficult times. Social media invite people to stage their lives and offer glimpses of when they look most attractive, when they do the most exciting things for the world to see. In my feed, the countless very-happy-times photos and unavoidable baby photos share the space with social justice links and statuses, many about the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, violence against women, reproductive justice issues, and a few weeks ago, about the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
I find myself having a hard time facing both the overly cheerful pictures and the heart-shattering current events. I feel upset witnessing the simple and lighthearted happiness so many friends and « friends » of mine seem to enjoy, but i can’t let myself measure the amplitude of the violence and injustice faced by so many people. I can’t handle really facing either. So i often find myself withdrawing from both. Scrolling through all of it as if i had to, glossing over everything, in very much the same way i find myself doing with what is happening around me « in real life ». I can’t deal with everything at once, it seems. So i end up not dealing with anything. Spending days without being able to connect to my loss because it feels like too much work.
Last night, wanting to re-stage a pregnancy picture — a somewhat scary invitation made here by Meghan — i looked through the few photos of the end of my pregnancy. I looked at myself, trying and failing to recognize who i was then. As i juxtaposed the before and after photos, i had a even harder time trying to figure out who i have become.
I am definitely not who i was then, but not completely different either. Unable to cry for days on end, but not capable of smiling as spontaneously as i used to do. Awkward in this in-between state. Unable to face the daily sadness, unable to move away from it. Avoiding all of the in-between situations too.
When P. took this first photo of me, i had already passed my due date. We had entered 2014 and i was still pregnant. All i could think of was being done with pregnancy. I tried to relax, to be patient but i wanted to deliver already. That night, the cold was unforgivably intense. We went for a walk anyway, because it was recommended by my midwife. I even tried to run, just a few meters. I remember the freezing air hurting my lungs, my thighs so cold they became numb. As we turned around to walk back towards our home, now facing the wind, i took my large scarf off to use it to protect my legs. I didn’t know what to expect. I was hopeful. I thought that since i was following my midwife’s advice religiously, of course, everything would work out. I felt ready, like going in for a test knowing i had studied well for. The next day, my water broke and i began really long not-labor and then labor that would give me a first taste of how things don’t always go as planned…
In the first photo, taken on January 1st, i was confident 2014 would be beautiful. Filled with love. And explorations.
In the second photo, taken yesterday, i know that 2014 has been incredibly trying. Love has taken forms i would have never imagined. I have had to explore the depths of sorrow and disbelief. I can’t quite remember who i was, i am not sure who i am. But i am trying to get to know the « after » me.