We spent Tuesday at the ER and it was hard, so hard. In the almost seven months since Madeline passed, I have carried the pain of losing her inside me, where no one can see it. Often I would wish that it could manifest itself into some sort of physical ailment, something visible so others could see with their own eyes how massive and hideous it is. But, like most pain, it is something that I can only tell people exists – they cannot see it just by looking at me.
Since last week, my neck and shoulders have been getting tighter and more painful. Finally, some physical pain to distract me from the razors of loss I feel every day. At first, the pain was a nice little distraction. My brain couldn’t replay April 7th if the act of merely sitting up stole my breath. But then the pain got worse, and worse, and I finally realized on Tuesday morning that maybe I hadn’t slept on it funny, and maybe something was actually wrong.
Sitting in the chairs behind the curtain in the ER, I couldn’t block out anything. A mother struggled to comfort her sick baby. The woosh of a steroid breathing treatment given by nebulizer to a little boy. An alarm sounding on a monitor. I tried to block it out and focus on my physical ailments. A doctor came and had me go over my medical history. I held my breath and hoped that no one would ask about Madeline. They didn’t. Another doctor asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten. I wanted to ask him what people said was a ten. To me, a ten is watching your child die in front of you. Some shoulder pain isn’t on that scale. But I knew he wanted a measure of the pain he could treat, so I threw out a number that sounded urgent.
And then the pain started to get worse, and breathing became harder for me, and I remember just focusing, trying to get through another minute until I’d get a bed and get to lay down. And then I wouldn’t remember anything until I’d feel Mike tugging on my good arm, my left arm, and I’d hear him stay, “stay awake baby, stay awake.” I stayed awake, I tried, until I got hot and sweaty and the room went gray, and the next thing I knew I was in a bed.
Being in a hospital after losing Maddie doesn’t disturb me the way most people think it will. She was born in a private hospital, was in the NICU at the old hospital, and she died in a third hospital. The ER we went to is in the new hospital and has no bad memories for us, nor does the labor and delivery unit Binky will be delivered in a few floors up. But the sounds are the same. The deliberate pace the staff moves at until a crises starts. Mike and I are practiced at pretending curtains are actually soundproof walls when it comes to keeping patient confidentiality, but nothing could keep out the reminders that bad bad things can happen.
I drifted in and out of consciousness for most of the day. I was stunned when my mom arrived and it was eight pm. Mike made me eat some food and drink some fluids, and I was able to carry on conversations again. But before that, Mike had to step up and make decisions for me and Binky, because even though I could hear what the doctors were saying, I couldn’t retain the information. I was too clouded by pain and grief and memories. And when it came back that it wasn’t the horrible thing it could have been, but instead just more pain no one else could see, I was relieved. I have learned how to manage invisible pain.
When the final ER doctor came for a last examination and discharge and she asked me how old my first daughter is, instead of giving my “her second birthday is next week” misleading answer, I told her that my daughter had died. She told me she was so so sorry and I told her that I knew she was, and I was too.
Then we left the ER, and drove away from a hard hard day that in the scheme of things wasn’t really hard at all.
kathy butler says:
Hope the physical pain has subsided some..the pain from losing Maddie will always be with you …and in a lesser degree felt by thousands who follow your blog. Know we’re all pulling for you and wishing you the best. Love katidid7
catherine lucas says:
Well, The Scheme of things can be a decieving sentence… It does not make a truly hard day less hard.
I guess that the combination of a body sabotaging you big time and thoughts haunting you is hard on itself.
We outsiders, your readers, can not really get to grips with your amount of pain. We know it must hurt beyond words, and it is frustrating to not find words enough…
I am sending good vibes your way, hopeful that they might arrive and comfort you a little…
Sending you love and support. Also hope the physical pain can be resolved soon. Hugs.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was some magical word that could be said to ease all the pain?
If there is, I don’t know it so I am just sending all my good thoughts and prayers towards you and Mike and Binky.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
Heather, I’ve been thinking about you, hoping that your shoulder pain feels better soon.
Thanks for keeping us updated. Sending prayers.
.-= Lynn from For Love or Funny´s last blog ..Autumn makes me grumpy =-.
Wow, I’m sorry your body’s beating you up right now….prayers coming at you for this and EVERYTHING else.
.-= jen´s last blog ..count =-.
Scary Mommy says:
I hope easier days are ahead for you. You’ve certainly had your fair share of the shitty ones. Thinking of you…
.-= Scary Mommy´s last blog ..How to get the perfect picture of your children =-.
I am so, so sorry you had such a painful day, both inside and out. I know you’ll never stop feeling pain for Maddie, but I hope you feel better physically very soon!
xo from CT,
.-= amanda´s last blog ..Halloween! =-.
Sounds like a tough day, but I guess when you have the worst imaginable day to compare it to, it keeps it in perspective. However, tough nonetheless. I hope you’re feeling better soon. Hugs!
.-= Candice´s last blog ..Trick or Treat!! =-.
You have such a gift for writing about feelings that are so hard to put into words.
I was actually thinking about your shoulder pain yesterday and without knowing if there is a physical diagnosis, I imagined the weight of your grief that is invisible to a lot of the outside world and how it must take a toll on your body.
I know you’ll never stop grieving for Maddie or worrying about Binky…but, I do hope the physical pains do subside some post pregnancy. You’ve suffered enough.
Thanks for sharing and keeping us up-to-date. I always know I can count on a fresh new post from you when I’m up at 3:00am fighting my own demons.
Take care of yourself, mama…
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Saying goodbye… =-.
Jennifer said exactly, EXACTLY what I am thinking and feeling. Down to the last word.
Sometimes, when I get here late and there are lots of comments, since I don’t have anything special to add, I just don’t post. I feel inadequate. What can I say that will add to the conversation? I’m sure you get sick of my oft-repeated “i’m here, i’m listening”, heartfelt as it is.
Todat was going to be like that. It was a long evening and I don’t think I could have encapsulated how I’ve been feeling, let alone make it sound fresh. But I browed anyway and lo and behold, Jennifer said it fir me. I hope you will re-read her comment and know you have two people thinking precisely this.
.-= Della´s last blog ..We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging =-.
Oh my goodness. I hope that the shoulder pain begins to subside soon and am so glad that it was nothing more serious for you. I do understand tha loss you are feeling and the pain noone can see. Many prayers and thoughts coming your way and look forward to the healthy birth to come.
I think you may have touched on something. Your pain can absolutely be stress related. Our bodies are amazing machines, but can only take so much. Your poor little body has been dragged through a mine field these past several months…maybe it is your body’s way of showing the pain.
Hopefully the PT can help relieve you of the physical pain that ails you. I will pray that God will relieve you of the real pain that plagues you.
Well, the good news is….as hard as that day felt, you made it through and made it through it with good news!!!! I was so relieved when Mike told us it wasn’t a blood clot! WHEW….you and Binking are okay…..such a BLESSING!!!! One, anyone who :”knows ” you and Mike are complelely thankful for !!!
When I had heard you were in the ER, I wondered if it would bring back some harsh memories. I’m so sorry it did. I guess the good news is it’s another “milestone” you made it through. Not to say the next time will be any less tramatic but maybe it might be a wee bit easier..???? but, maybe not.
Today I take solace as I read YOUR words as I am so happy you feel better enough to write us. Today, I continue to pray for you that the profound pain you feel will lessen even just a little bit and any joy you feel with over prower any sadness you feel.. But more than anything, today I am grateful you are in your own home, in your own place of solace knowing that Binky is doing well and knowing there is no blood clots to threaten you or Binky. Today will be a much better day.
Big, big hugs and lots of love to you all…
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Catalog browsing =-.
I believe that your physical pain really can be your body’s manifestation of grief. I sent a friend of mine a book called “A Broken Heart Still Beats” after her daughter passed away (age 4). She told me it was one of the more helpful books that she received. Like you, her pain was so huge that it became a physical thing.
I hope that PT helps and yoy are able to be more comfortable, at least physically.
I do hope that your shoulder feels better soon. We are all thinking of you and sending warm thoughts your way from New York, for a speedy recovery!
.-= charlane´s last blog ..Kids are Spooky =-.
Oh, Heather, I’m so very sorry for these tough days. Sending lots of love your way.
Ive been thinking of you. oxo
Along with the other commenters, i am sending my love, prayers, get well vibes your way.
.-= jen´s last blog ..melt with you.. =-.
Sometimes I think the beauty of life is the way it changes. I am so sorry for the grief I know will never truly change, but I am excited for the new hues of joy that will reposition your memories.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Endings =-.
Alexandra :) says:
I’m so sorry that you had to go to the hospital. I wish that there was some way we could make this pregnancy with Binky easier.
I’m so sorry you have been having an even more difficult time recently and have been in so much pain with your shoulder. I’ve been thinking about you and sending you lots of get well soon vibes all the way from Luxembourg. Please know that you have so many people all over the world holding you in our thoughts and holding your hand. You are surrounded by our love and support – if only we could carry some of the pain for you too. I hope you are not in as much pain with your shoulder. You are in very good hands with your Mike and your team of doctors.
Please take extra special care Mama Spohr.
Sending you lots of love and hugs
Jen @ lifelove'n'wine says:
I’m glad that Binky is ok, but I wish that your shoulder felt better. I can’t wait until you can hold Binky in your arms…that should help brighten your days a little.
.-= Jen @ lifelove’n’wine´s last blog ..Not the Way Life Should Be =-.
Thinking of you and hoping your physical pain diminishes quickly. I know this of all months is not the time when your anguish will subside, and I am truly think your physical pain is rooted in your immense grief. The weight of your grief is literally sitting on your shoulders. I hope physical therapy will help your shoulder and neck, and I truly hope writing here and feeling the love & support of so many helps your broken heart. Much love to you and your family.
Michele in Staten Island, NY
.-= Michele´s last blog ..You know this one… =-.
Big (((hugs))), love and prayers coming your way. I am glad that the pain in your shoulder is not something more physically serious than it is. And I’m glad Binky is doing well. Keeping you guys in my thoughts and heart.
I couldn’t have said it better. 100% ditto.
Relieved to hear the pain wasn’t what it could have been – and so sorry for the experience. ER visits suck on your best day. I’m so impressed with the way you convey these difficult emotions and situations. Your writing is amazing.
It took me years to be to able to set foot into a hospital after my daughter’s death sans a panic attack. And she did not die in a hospital. She did however spend much time there throughout her years.
Your descriptions resonated with me, once again.
I hope today is gentle on you.
.-= won´s last blog ..Pair of Sailing and Courage =-.
I hope you’re doing a little bit better physically this morning. Again, Mike is such a great caretaker.
.-= Deborah´s last blog ..Birmingham and Urban Decay =-.
Remember taking Writing 101 in college, and learning “show don’t tell”? You have that gift, Heather. We can’t feel your pain, but we can see it. In your eyes in photos, in the touching, loving tributes you write to and about Maddie, and in the actions you take with the MoD and FoM to help ease the suffering of other parents and NICU babies. Your grief has manifested itself physically in ways you can’t begin to imagine. Maddie was so much larger than her tiny size, that’s why thousands of us each carry a tiny piece of her in our hearts. We only wish we could shoulder some of your pain for you.
Praying that your shoulder pain (and heart pain) ease a little each day.
.-= Noelle´s last blog ..Yankees-Phillies World Series 2009 =-.
So sorry you had to deal with that horrible day, so sorry you are dealing with that terrible shoulder pain on top of everything else. I’ll continue sending you healthy, healing thoughts. I hope you get some relief soon.
Love and hugs.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Unsafe Jobs During Pregnancy =-.
Shannon Kieta says:
So did they say what was wrong in general? Is it a blood clot? I bet you will be glad when February comes. You will be holding Bink, and the main worrying will be over. Please be careful going too many places. This H1N1 scares the HELL out of me! A friend of ours, who was 71/2 months pregnant, just lost her baby and slipped into a coma, because she contracted the swine flu. It is so sad. So, please be careful. I love you guys! Shannon
Love to you. Perhaps your body is suffering some physical effects from the stress and grief you are facing? I am thinking of you, Mike, Madeline and Binky.
My friend just passed her 1 year mark without her baby. Someone actually said to me that the Mom has to be relieved that a year has passed because it meant that she probably does not think about it as often as she once did after it happened. The person who said it is one of the most caring people I know too. It just proved to me that no one can truly understand the actual depth of the pain she has to endure for the rest of her life. So what you said about wishing it would manifest itself into something visible so people can see the scope of it all, that made perfect sense to me. No one can feel that pain unless they are there. We can all just look in and hope that the stupid things we say and do can just give a tiny bit of help to those of you that are in such pain. I am happy that you made it through the ER and that Binky is doing well. You, Mike, Madeline, Binkey, and even Riley are in my thoughts all the time…
I am thinking of you and your family and praying for you always!
.-= maya´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday (ok, not so wordless) =-.
Trisha Vargas says:
Thinking of you always and hoping your pain eases. Try to rest as best you can and I hope some PT helps your aching neck & back soon.
(((HUGS))) from your friend in Florida
You are a very strong woman. I hope that your Pain (all of it) subsides.
.-= kbreints´s last blog ..Through the Lens Thursday =-.
big (hug) no words just a big (hug)….
.-= Jodee´s last blog ..Shoes….. Wordless Wednesday.. =-.
I offer you my hug and continued moral support. You’re so right that we carry around this invisible but yet huge weight of grief. Sometimes I look at other people and think, I wonder if they have something weighing them down that I can’t see, and they have no idea that my soul is crushed. I’m glad the shoulder/back/arm pain isn’t something awful.
Kristen McD says:
Just thinking of you all.
Its terrible how your brain and heart can play one against the other.
I held my breath the whole time reading the entry about you being in the ER. (Good thing I’m a fast reader, because seriously…turning blue over here) I pray for your continued strength everyday.
You are so blessed to have a husband like Mike who is not only there for you physically, but emotionally. God Bless you guys!
Hopefully PT does ease some of your physical pain, it sucks to be hurting. Thinking of you.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Surprise Visit =-.
I wish I could help relieve some of your pain. I know that I can’t, so I will just be here to listen.
.-= Danielle´s last blog ..Why can’t I grieve? =-.
I hope that the PT helps with your shoulder!
.-= Heather´s last blog ..Congratulations! =-.
Tracy I says:
Oh, Heather, my tears are flowing and my heart is breaking for you. I hope your physical pain subsides a bit, and I hope somehow, in time, you find some peace and comfort.
Thinking of you and your babies.
.-= Heidi´s last blog ..Single White Male =-.
Jodie Brooks says:
I’m so happy things look good for Binky, but so sad that you are in all this pain (external and internal). I know the internal pain won’t go away but I hope you get some type of relief for your external pain. Please know I’m praying and thinking of you and your family daily! Sending massive bear hugs your way. Good thing these hugs are through email, ’cause I wouldn’t want to hurt ya!!
I’m glad you are home. Please take good care of yourself.
.-= J´s last blog ..(Anti)social media =-.
Aunt Becky says:
Man, you know how to get stuff in my eyes, Heather. I don’t know how you do it.
I am so so sorry as well, Heather. Big hugs
“To me, a ten is watching your child die in front of you. Some shoulder pain isn’t on that scale.”
Heather, for all of your eloquent and articulate descriptions of your pain, somehow this simple statement encapsulates it perfectly. Thank you for continuing to share your story with us.
I pray for you, Mike, Maddie and Binky on a daily basis.
Oh lady. *hug*
.-= Maria´s last blog ..Girl Talk Thursday – job venting =-.
The pain in your shoulder is no match for the pain in your heart
I wish I could offer something, some words, that will help. Just know that I am thinking of you, as are so many others………..
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..Capturing the moment =-.
Amy in Oregon says:
I wish I could just hug you, but I know that would only hurt your shoulder/neck worse and it wouldn’t ease the pain of losing Maddie. I wish I could do anything to ease the pain…anything.
Love all around…
I’m so glad your feeling a little better, keeping hanging in there. We’re all pulling for you. Love to you, Mike, Binky, Rigby and as always Maddie.
I am so sorry for your pain, both visible and invisible! God Bless.
.-= Courtney´s last blog ..I’m around… =-.
Sorry Heather. Love you
Big squishy hugs to you my friend.
.-= Issa´s last blog ..We might be pack rats. *maybe* =-.
Beautiful post and so poignant. I’m sorry this has become your every day. Looking forward to Binky consuming your days without the injections and shoulder pain.
heather, i’m a long time reader, first time commenter. Sorry for your pain, all of it. Maddie was beautiful and precious.
I’m commenting on behalf of another Madeleine. A blog network I’m part of is pushing to widely distribute this video of lost Madeline McCann, I’m sure you remember this little girl who was abducted two years ago in Portugal. http://www.ceop.police.uk/madeleine/madeleine.asp
Your blog is read so widely that I thought maybe, just maybe, posting it on your site could help. There is still a chance that this little girl isn’t lost for ever. Apologies if this is inappropriate. Hoping and wishing for Binky’s safe arrival, and thinking of you. Geekymummy.
Marti from Michigan says:
Not knowing what to say today, and crying once again after reading your post.
There is a light at the end of this long tunnel……………
Heather… hoping that the physical pain goes away soon and you’re feeling better. Sending you and Binky hugs XX take care of yourself!!!
You are so sadly right…in the grand scheme of things. Sigh.
Heather and Mike,
I wish I knew what to say. Sending you lots of hugs and love.
.-= Kristy´s last blog ..Little Gummy Bear =-.
Domestic Extraordinaire says:
so much love & hugs to you guys
.-= Domestic Extraordinaire´s last blog ..You Capture-At the Park with A Nephew Edition =-.
You are so much stronger than I could ever be. If I am half the mother that you are to Maddie and Binky, my son will be the luckiest little boy in the world.
Hugs, prayers and love today and always.
Sometimes I hate leaving comments on your blog but I don’t want you to think I don’t read every post. Lately I’ve been thinking about Maddie all the time. Maybe because of her birthday coming up, maybe because the memory of being at her first party is right here with me, maybe because I just hate hate hate everything you’re going through. Just know, Maddie Moo will NEVER EVER EVER be forgotten no matter how many more babies you have. We love her. All of us who know you in life or from reading your blog. You and Mike are beautiful people, the bestest parents ever and you deserve so much happiness. I don’t know why crap things happen. Thinking of you always.
.-= Stefanie´s last blog ..Let’s Play a Game =-.
I kind of wondered about the pain as a distraction. I’ve lived with chronic pain for a few years, but it’s not usually the blinding kind, and I know that sometimes? That pain is kind of comforting. Like a way to know that you are still alive.
.-= middle-aged-woman´s last blog ..My New True Love =-.
You are ALWAYS in my thoughts. Hope the pain, from your arm, subsides soon and you’re feeling better.
.-= AmazingGreis´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – Halloween candy I LOVE edition… =-.
.-= mythoughtsonthat´s last blog ..I Wish I Knew =-.
Oh Heather, I never quite know what to say (can I admit that?) but I always want to just reach out and hug you. So I’m sending big hugs your way and please know you and your wonderful family are in my prayers. Your strength and grace is what will see you through all of the tough times.
I hope the pinch nerve goes away soon. I do hope the Dr gave you some ideas to relax it. I am relieved it was nothing serious and nothing you can’t handle.
My heart just aches for you and your husband. Your grief is palpable through your words. Know that many you have not met think of you and your husband.
Oh how I think of you and Mike so much. I hope the pain in your arm and back disappears and takes with it some of the pain in your heart, as impossible as that might be.
It is not fair. But, Maddie was, is, and continues to be a gift. Thank you for sharing her.
So, so sorry you’re in so much pain. But you’re right — heart pain can definitely be manifested in the body. My mother had crushing headaches for six months after my father died, and one day they vanished and have never returned. It’s not that she misses him any less, just that the pain itself has eased. Here’s hoping the same for you.
I’m still waiting for that pain. The one that can be diagnosed, medicated, treated. I would like for someone to just…know. Instead of me saying it over and over again.
I hope you’re feeling better. You know, with your shoulder and all.
.-= JennK´s last blog ..Instant gratification girl. =-.
i had to reread your entry again. I am so glad to hear that everything with Binky is ok and I hope that you start to feel better ASAP.
The thing about being asking is it hurts and it is an awkward moment when the person who ask has that almost horrified look on their face when you have to muster up the courage and sometimes fight back the tears and start “well acually he died….”
However the always optimistic person i am realized…how would i feel if they DIDN’T ask as if they didn’t exist? It might still be weird and sometimes I still fight back the tears (sometimes I don’t do a great job at that), but now I use it as a time I get to smile and talk about my dad instead.
Love lots of love your way.
Dee Dee says:
HUGS Heather, tell Mike we appreciate him for updating us when you ar enot able to. You are such an eloquent writer you should consider writing a book. You have soooo much to offer that could help lots of people. Take care and I hope you pain subsides soon.
Your words are so very powerful and beautiful Heather. I loved this: “Often I would wish that it could manifest itself into some sort of physical ailment, something visible so others could see with their own eyes how massive and hideous it is. But, like most pain, it is something that I can only tell people exists – they cannot see it just by looking at me.”
Because don’t we all wish that was possible. I wish I could feel an ounce of your pain so I could understand BETTER. So that I could understand better what you’re going through.
And this blew me away, as it touched someone else whose comment I read as well: “To me, a ten is watching your child die in front of you. Some shoulder pain isn’t on that scale.”
I can’t even imagine.
I am so glad and amazed that you told the ER doctor the truth about Maddie instead of the birthday comment. You are SO INCREDIBLY STRONG Heather!!!!! I know you don’t feel like it now and you don’t believe it, but just know, “That you ARE strong! YOU ARE!”
So incredibly strong.
Jenny @ http://motherlawyercrazywoman.blogspot.com/ says:
Heather, Feel better soon. I am sorry you are in so much pain … in both senses. All my best …
.-= Jenny @ http://motherlawyercrazywoman.blogspot.com/´s last blog ..Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Sugar =-.
To me, it was eerie what you wrote today. This very topic has been weighing on me heavily for the past two weeks. My daughter was recently hit by a car and spent just about 3 months in the hospital. She cannot walk, talk, eat by mouth or do just about anything.
She is now home and as we run errands I quickly realize that our scars are so visible for the world to see.
I have thought about you over the course of the last weeks as well. I thought of how your scars along with so many others are not visible to the naked passing by eye. I look around and wonder what others have seen in their lives, what they are going through now or what they will have to endure in their future.
Whether visible or invisible, I came to the conclusion that they are both equally and extraordinarily heavy on the heart.
Life is so strange. You would give anything to have your daughter back with you and in your arms. I have my daughter and am grateful for that, but have to watch her struggle to do the absolute most basic of things, 24 hours a day. My heart breaks for her on a daily (more like hourly) basis.
I am sorry for all you went through in the ER. I am sorry for all you have been through in the past 7 months and I continue to wish you only brighter days ahead.
Gentle hugs to you and your beautiful family : )
Ooohh, I just remembered a quote I posted on my blog a few weeks ago, it is just so true
“Be kinder than necessary
because everyone you meet is fighting
some kind of battle.”
Megan J in Ohio says:
I have nine chikdren, several with medical problems, two of whom have had some very close calls. In those moments I pray so, so hard that I will not have to face what you are facing right now. Please know that you are in my prayers. No mama should ever have to feel that kind of pain. Blessings to all of you, Megan
.-= Megan J in Ohio´s last blog ..I Have Secrets =-.
Thinking good thoughts for you & your family, Heather. I know it can’t take away the pain (both physical & emotional) you feel, but know that you have a ton of people rooting for you — those you know and those you don’t.
Yeah, shoulder pain comes out pretty mild against life or death.
I know I can’t fully comprehend since I’m not a mama, but I have had an experience of, Holy geez, minor pain is minor compared to this other enormous pain.
Wishing there was something I could do to alleviate any of your pain.
Susan (5 Minutes for Mom) says:
Heather, I am so so so sorry.
I honestly do not know how you survive the pain of losing a child. I think I’d have to be heavily, heavily, heavily medicated every day for the rest of my life. And I am in no way joking. I know I would NOT be able to handle it.
.-= Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)´s last blog ..5 Minutes for Books: America’s White Table =-.
Two Makes Four says:
Thinking of you…..I hope all your pain eases someday.
.-= Two Makes Four´s last blog ..Althea Toddling =-.
Maria Delgado says:
I am praying for your healing.
.-= Maria Delgado´s last blog ..Bloggers Unite! June 24th-27th 2010!!!! =-.