Well. My least-favorite month of the year is here. April, I hate you so much. It’s nothing personal.
The ninth anniversary of Madeline’s death is this Saturday. My friends are wonderful. They text me to check in, send jokes to make me smile, or little notes to let me know they’re thinking of us. I really cannot stress enough how much that means to me. I tell everyone who comes to me with “My friend lost a child, what can I do to support them,” that the ongoing messages YEARS LATER are so, so crucial for Mike and me. If you have a friend who’s lost someone important to them, make a note to remember that person every year.
But I digress. The last twelveish months have been really hard for me, from a grieving standpoint. Maddie’s tenth birthday weighed on me all year. The flashbacks, which I can usually manage, came far too often. I’d look out the window in the car and flashback to when Mike would drive me to my appointments, or I’d smell something that made me think of all the time Maddie and I spent in the hospital. I was very depressed and often struggled to complete simple things like doing laundry…writing on my blog…even getting off the couch.
On top of that, I wasn’t honest with myself. I think at first I honestly didn’t realize I was depressed. But when the word “depression” was brought up, I was in denial for a long time. I told myself that I was “too far” in the grieving process to be depressed. I would put on my happy face and attempt to go through the motions of life. My old standbys of staying busy to keep my mind off things started to backfire, and suddenly everything seemed incredibly overwhelming. And then on Maddie’s birthday, I just about came apart.
What this has made me realize is that I need to be kinder to myself. I don’t need to push through things. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and depressed and I just need to admit it to the people around me. I shouldn’t worry that they won’t understand. I need to let people in on what’s happening so they can help me. And I need to help myself.
So, with that in mind, Mike and I have decided not to physically participate in the March for Babies this year. The event is always an emotional minefield. I am relieving myself of the stress that comes along with trying to put together a team. I’m not going to send out a mass email asking for donations (thereby avoiding the dreaded “unsubscribe” responses). And, Mike, the kids, and I are not going to attend the March for Babies at the end of the month.
This was simultaneously the easiest and hardest decision. It means A LOT to us that so many give up their Saturday mornings to walk with and support us. We know how hard it is. But not going means Mike and I won’t be slammed with so many reminders that our daughter died. It’s really difficult to see the children who survived prematurity — we’re obviously so happy for them, but to see so many children running around, laughing and living…it’s really, really hard. The march makes us relive the worst moment of our life and this year, I just can’t do that to myself.
That being said, we still heavily support the March of Dimes, and we hope to continue to raise money and awareness for a cause and organization that means so much to us. I’m still registered for the Los Angeles march to support our local March of Dimes branch, and if anyone is kind enough to give to the cause, the link to donate in Madeline’s name is here.
Even though I know this is the right decision for this year, I’m still terrified that I’m going to be letting people down. My heart and my head are rarely on the same page when it comes to this stuff. I know Annabel is going to be disappointed, as she loves the march. But this year, I have to take care of myself and I know that someday she’ll understand.
I hope you all understand, too.