Fear and kids

Originally written on 19 November 2017.

Terror is built deeply into my firstborn son. I should have made the jump. He had nightmares in the womb. They continue to be his most frequent form of dream. I spent nearly a year convincing him that our home, and especially his room, was safe. I helped him put a toy sword under his pillow every night so that he could sleep. I taught him how to cast mystical baddies out of his room. Now that he’s seven, he scoffs at it as if it were childish.

He swallowed a penny on Thursday, and it got stuck at the valve between his esophagus and his stomach. They sent us to Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor to have it removed. When they put the IV in, it took two attempts. On the second attempt, I saw how deep the rabbit hole goes. Wild, darting eyes, panicked screaming, trying to look away, or reason through it, as Nikki kept telling him to, and him getting more panicked because he couldn’t. I tried to help, to comfort, to connect and share the burden. Tears immediately began cascading down my cheeks and wave after wave of core-level terror tore me apart. I had to leave the room.

I thought I was failing my son. I thought I wasn’t strong enough to do what a Dad does.

The doctors thought I was going to pass out.

Does he live with that terror inside him every second of every day? The bravery and strength that it must take him just to get through the day, let alone have all the fun that he tries to pack in (so much like his mother sometimes)… thinking about it leaves me in awe.

He already things that I say how proud I am because I’m his Dad, and I have to. If he only knew how thoroughly he’s already earned it.

Pro-tip for seven-year-olds: Saliva is not the best solvent for cleaning your penny collection. Catsup comes highly recommended.

I’m exhausted, I’m spent, and I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot, considering. Gonna take me a bit to recover from this one. From all of this.

Not my son, though. He’s already back to bowling and playing Skylanders and poking me in the belly and giving his mom a hard time.

That’s my boy.

Nerdiness, delicious nerdiness.

SETI@Home Graveyard

Let us bow our head in remembrance of two valiant machines, Alpha Trion and Swoop.  They were discovered to be non-functional upon the redeployment of the Graveyard.  They were reliable… er… they were the first two in my rack-wanna-be shelf.  Nemesis Prime has been re-purposed as Hunter’s computer, and will rejoin the Graveyard ranks when Hunter earns a connection to the internet.  Bruticus is now my desktop, and it’s still crunching data.  That left Slag and Snarl as the only boxes to redeploy in the basement.  I’ve set up the other Compaq Presario media computer (the multimedia might of Pentium II with MMX!) as Sludge, and am thinking of setting up the ancient eMachine as Grimlock (Thanks, Matt!).

That basement room is much more clean now.  I’m hoping that this trend continues.

Repercussions and Consquences

Doctor’s appointment today with the OB/GYN.  Pictures of babies on the wall, pregnant women all around, happy expectant faces everywhere… wore hard on Nikki.  Truth be told, on me as well.  Things are progressing normally, the hormone count is way down and still falling.  The loss, the hole, is still preventing things from returning to “normal”, but I don’t feel like I’m running from it.


What’s this writing thing of which you speak?

Not okay.

My brain is good at avoidance.  It’s good at distraction, changing of subjects, and shuffling conversations – both verbal and internal – away from topics that it would rather avoid.  Out loud, I do it without even thinking.  Internally, it’s like the thoughts and memories don’t even exist.  There’s nothing there, hey look at this shiny thing over here. When I want to, I can push my brain.  I can force it to look; I can trap it so that there’s no other way but through the thing it wants to avoid.

Pain lies in that direction, right now.  A flood of it.  Absolute freakin’ deluge.

I started avoiding the pain as a means of survival.  Don’t have time to deal with this right now, need to help Nikki.  Can’t acknowledge this, need to keep upbeat for kids.  I’ll deal with it later, when I get some time, need to get us to the hospital.  Need to be strong. Then I added in the fears that came with my wife being in the hospital.  Worry about the lack of information?  Worry about the vagueness of the info that we did get?  In the pool with the pain.  Fear that a doctor would have an attack of stupid and hurt my wife?  In the pool.  Fear that something bad had already happened, and that I’d go home without my partner in life?  The water’s fine!  Keep smiling.  Keep doing what she asks, so that she doesn’t worry about you.  Yes, she’s right, you need to eat, even if you’re not hungry.  Go eat.  Don’t think about her in that hospital bed on painkillers all alone.  Hold her hand, let her know that everything’s going to be all right.  Don’t let her see your fear that everything is absolutely not all right.  Don’t let her know that she looks like she’s in pain, and not being able to do anything about it is killing you.  This is not the time nor the place.  Don’t scream at the doctors to let her go home.  Don’t yell at the nurses to tell you something, for god’s sake, anything.  They don’t know.  They’re doing their jobs.  Be strong for her, she’s always strong for you.

There’s only so many times that I can repeat something before it becomes true.  The pain, fear, and doubt of the miscarriage were put in that place of forgetfulness over the last week.  Doing so, I’m sad and ashamed to admit, dragged whole memories with the pain.  Things that were said at the memorial service, things that I said at the service, and things that I said that night feel like vague recollections of a dream.  They sound familiar and they feel like echoes.  I can push my mind to remember, I can force it to stay on target, but I can feel the pain and the fear and the doubt leak in around the edges as I get near.  If I push harder and farther, I will get to what I’ve locked away, but I may drown in it.

Today, I have most of the day to myself.  I was holding myself back until today so that I could let go.  So that I could drown, maybe.  So I could feel, even if I did drown.  I’m staring down the hallway, but I’m not stepping forward.  I keep finding other things that need to be done, and trying to default back to feeling good through accomplishing tasks.  Surprise, surprise, it’s not working.  So, here I am, writing, and feeling better.

My child died on Monday, 22 February around 6 AM.  On Tuesday night, at the memorial service, and in bed with my wife, I stated that I wanted to get her/him back, I wanted to try again.  There is so much pain that I have made myself forget saying any of that.  I can no longer remember most of the memorial service.  Nearly all of the rest of the evening is inaccessible to me.

My child died on Monday, 22 February around 6 AM.  I will never get to hold that baby’s tiny fingers.  I will never get to stroke that baby’s soft skin.  I will never get to feed, comfort, teach, or know this child that was made of pieces of both of us.

My child died on Monday, 22 February around 6 AM.  No, I am not okay.  I am not holding up well.  I feel like shit, and am in an incredible amount of emotional pain that I have no method of coping with.

My child died.  My heart knows what it wants; it voiced itself the night of the service.  My mind knows what it wants; it has blocked out and cordoned off the pain.  Their goals are in direct opposition to each other.  I am, literally, torn inside.

My child died.