Friday, August 20, 2010

Phantom Pain

Amputees can develop what is called 'phantom pain'. It is pain that you feel in the leg or arm that has been amputated. I am very familiar with this phenomenon due to the time I spent nursing wounded soldiers when I was in the Army at the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a heartbreaking thing to witness. As a nurse, you feel so helpless to it because these young men and women are screaming and crying in pain for a body part that you can no longer see, touch or assess.

After losing a sweet baby, the body likes to play tricks on you. At least mine does. I have experienced what I call 'phantom kicks'. I have googled it and it is actually a real phenomenon. For me, I feel these kicks at night when I am laying in bed. Nighttime was Harper's most active time so I guess that feeling them during the quietness of the night makes sense. These kicks actually make me smile and I usually put my hand on my tummy and savor the few seconds that I feel them. It is like for a split second I remember what it feels like to have a little life growing inside of me. Then I remember that I really don't.

The truth is, I am not feeling them as much as I used to and it makes me so sad. Another chapter is closing, one more physical reminder of my sweet baby is drifting away from me. I felt the same sadness when my milk dried up. I felt like it was really over when my milk was gone. All of these physical signs of a pregnancy were leaving me and I didn't want them to go because it was one more piece of Harper that was leaving me too. Just another reminder that my pregnancy was over and I had no sweet baby girl in my arms. It is such an empty feeling. No more baby in my belly-just an empty pouch. No more milk to feed the little one that I will never get the chance to nurse. And now, no more kicks to remind me of all the miraculous life and joy that was once making a home inside of my womb. I miss her so, so, so much...

To me losing a baby seems kind of like losing an extremity. You have lost a part of you, a part of your soul but there is no prosthesis for an empty tummy, unfulfilled dreams and a broken heart. The average observer doesn't look at your once flat stomach that now has a little pudge to it and know that you have lost your baby. A person doesn't see that look of sadness in your eyes or your lack of laughter and know. There may be no external scar, depending if you had a c-section or not....but there is certainly an internal scar. A scar that will never heal, it may hurt less over time but it will always be there.


Andrea said...

I so understand and have even explained losing Oliver like having a phantom limb. I think losing a child is like that. They are a part of you forever. It is hard to lose the last physical reminders that we were pregnant not that long ago and should still be pregnant. It is hard to have the internal scar that no one else sees. Thinking of you.

Danae said...

I occassionally still feel the phantom kicks...and it breaks my heart all over again.

We did lose a part of us...this living, beautiful child, was a part of us, with their deaths, part of us goes with them.

I agree it does leave a scar...a very large scar. I have 2 scars...the internal one, and the one from my c-section. And neither one will people ever see.

(((HUGS))) my friend!

Olivia's Mom said...

So well put. I, too, have experienced the phantom kicks. It's such a painful reminder!

Many hugs!

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