I've been told that the chances of my marriage surviving after the death of our son Gabriel are slim. Of course, I was told the chances of Gabriel living for more than a day were slim, too. Wouldn't it be a shame if Gabriel beat the odds, but we did not?
The truth is, Ben and I have struggled a great deal in the first year and half of our marriage, even without the added pressures of losing two children in that time. I often say that Ben is very much your textbook male, and I am every bit your textbook woman. Ben is quiet and sometimes withdrawn, I am loud and sometimes too open. Ben tries to silence his emotions, I am loud and passionate in expressing mine. When we are good together, we are unstoppable. When we clash we are each others' worst enemy.
Living so closely with Ben sometimes makes him the victim of my rage. While I am usually publicly composed, at home I allow myself to fall apart. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning, struggle to find a reason to face another day. Then, at night I keep myself up late, dwelling on my guilt and my sadness. I want someone to blame for what happened to Gabriel. Sometimes I blame myself for not taking enough folic acid, or for not doing all I should have been doing to absorb the folic acid. Sometimes I blame Ben, I accuse him of never really wanting a baby or even accuse him of never wanting Gabriel to survive as long as he did. I know that those accusations also have roots in my own guilty conscience. There were times during Gabriel's life that I thought, "I didn't know what I was asking for when I asked for time with Gabriel, because I now I am falling apart as I care for him." I wondered often during my pregnancy if I even really wanted children as much as I said I did, because I missed my life before pregnancy, my freedom to eat and drink what I wanted, to spend money on myself, and to chase my own dreams without "interference." Sometimes I think that maybe Gabriel's loss was exactly what I deserved for looking back so much instead of looking ahead. Those thoughts haunt me constantly, even as I am out living again my pre-pregnancy lifestyle, and when they get to be too much I find Ben an easy target to lash out at.
This is not to say Ben does not have his faults and shortcomings in this time. I want to complain about him, but I guess I still love him too much to smear his name by writing about him knowing he will not take the opportunity to defend himself. I'm still his wife and while I aim to keep this blog honest so it can be a tool for others facing a similar situation, some things are still private and I know crossing those lines will only put more strain on our marriage. A strain that we may not be able to bounce back from in this already fragile state. As much as we have both hurt, and hurt each other, since Gabriel's birth I'm not willing to let us fall victim to the statistics. There's a reason the numbers are so high, and I am experiencing them now. The grief process always includes certain emotions and experiences, the variation is in the degree to which people and couples are effected. At times the process gets to be too much and I want to give up and that's when I have to draw on my son's example. He defied the odds, and I haven't learned anything if I haven't learned to aim to beat them too.