At some point I realized my husband and I will always be scarred human beings. In reality, I am not sure so much that this is a right description, because it implies abnormal, and yet I believe few people would escape unscathed from this. We are normal for what we have been through. That is my mantra, allows me to accept this new eality and try to process it. (Is accept the right word? I don't know. Accept has a nice implication that I wouldn't attach to it.)
Two big things for us: My husband hates dolls, especially the life size realistic ones, and I hate sleeping babies. The reasons pretty much mirror each other, I've described it earlier.
My Daughter knows how my husband feels about dolls. When he starts to shake, she hides them if she is there. Often she will remove her dolls from the living room before he gets home, she doesn't really question it. The older looking American Girl type dolls aren't so much the problem, nor are the smaller dolls that are obviously not life size. The worst is perhaps when she hides her larger doll under the covers and Dad sees a limb poking out or finds the doll while making the bed. It is one flaw in her process, but she is a good kid and is trying. I feel bad she has to do this, I suppose many would think he should get over it. But honestly, if I had found Perry with his arm sticking out from under his covers, I'd feel the same. In his own way, he is giving a lot to let her have the dolls. He hasn't been able to work through this yet.
She isn't deprived, her room isn't barren of toys. If anything we have to be careful now, because she has an incredible memory, so things rarely leave easily when they arrive. This has caused conflict before, as there was a rule set that it has to fit in a breadbox to give it to her. Hard to explain to someone that a gift given out of love can cause harm, can set off a chain reaction resulting in a another toy that she is attached to leaving.
So recently, when a doll was brought up, my husband reacted very negatively. It was one of those situations where I could see all sides: Emily would love this toy, it was being given out of love, but space was tight and the creep out factor for Chris is high. I couldn't moderate. Chris typically hides a lot of what he is feeling related to Perry's death, and I am more vocal. That means sometimes it sets me up to be viewed as overly sensitive, and I am a bit tired of it. Some of/ many of the things I voice my husband also thinks about and is upset at, but he pretends normal alot. At times it feels like he is in the same great sea, but pushes me out on a small raft by myself. He distances himself from the crazy lady a bit, even though he is just as wounded.
So I asked him later- because from what I was overhearing he was only addressing the space issue, if he had spoken bluntly about why he hated dolls I was sure maybe they'd understand a little better. There just seemed to more to his anxiety than just space or boundaries, and it was something I thought needed to be voiced.
In my mind I thought that this would make his reasoning more clear. Break the ice a bit.
In the end, he did tell, and it was pretty much brushed off. Chris seemed hurt and perplexed.
And it occurred to me. That sometimes people think they are understanding because they mourn the same child, but they didn't go through that same experience that we did. The horrible time of finding and being with your child after they are gone. They are not prettied up for viewing by the home, in some ways they look more like your child, but the horrible honesty of the situation is that you see the last expression of their life and can't pretend. The makeup isn't on and that terrible paleness screams to you that this is real and permanent. There are other things too, but that will remain locked in our own private box of terrible that I will only share occassionaly with parents that have faced the same situation.
I read an article about 'reborn dolls', dolls made to look lifelike. They creep many people out because it isn't natural for an object to look so much like a child and yet be so still. To a parent who has lost a child they look a lot like a pale reborn child. Like a large doll.
I don't know if there will be a day that Chris ever has positive feelings about what should be an ordinary toy. I don't know if he'll at least get some peace with it. I hope someday he will. For me I face sleeping children randomly and often look away, but I will be forced to face it daily if I have my own again. I don't have the luxury of aclimitization where I can say "let me see your sleeping baby for a couple minutes and then let me leave abruptly" (it's one of those things you can't explain, but people don't get because doesn't everyone want to see their beautiful peaceful child?). I've tried it a bit in passing at Emily's daycare, but I can't stand the blankets that are still in there. I want to gather them up and rip them apart in an angry release of hands and teeth. I wonder if Chris feels this way towards Emily's dolls after the creepy feeling recedes.
But perhaps someday it won't be like this.... I don't know that things will ever mean just what they are again, but maybe the shaking will be gone, or the little skip in my heart will be all that remains instead of the racing feeling in my chest.