Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Aurora Shooting Mimics Miscarriage Grief

Day 6 after the Aurora shooting.

So, I have been literally too exhausted to journal. That’s not like me at all but everything from this shooting is draining me and as I said before, I am not related to a victim. The shooting has taken so much out of me and most days, it’s too overwhelming to complete more then one task.

I took Monday off and desperately hoped to have Tuesday off but with all the new people at my hospital and the fact that the company doesn’t provide sick time, I didn’t feel like I could take any more time off.

I am not one to ask for help but on Saturday, I asked for it in the best way I knew how. I contacted my schedulers and advised them I wasn’t doing well with the shooting and that I couldn’t come in on Monday. I also advised them to contact the person in charge to tell them because my boss was on military leave.

I didn’t hear back from anyone so on Monday morning, I sent an email to another director I used to work for and advised him I am overwhelmed and that I am still not 100%. He offered to have someone come help out with tasks at my facility but didn’t offer any time off. Since he didn’t make a statement in his email, I assumed it wasn’t okay for me to take more time.

Monday afternoon I received a call from HR. VERY brief. “Hi, I heard you called off today because you are having trouble with the shooting and I wanted to make sure you had the EAP brochure and information.” REALLY?! I tried to hold back the tears but they flowed and I tried to mask the crying in my voice but couldn’t. Despite the tears and voice change, she got off the phone.

Not once did she ask if I was okay, if there was anything I needed, if there was anything the company could do, or if I needed more time off. If someone had just said it was OKAY for me to take time, it would have made a HUGE difference but I am so sour right now, it hurts to think about.

Even though I wasn’t at the theater or involved with a victim (other than a few came to my hospital), I am still grieving immensely.

  • I lost our family theater. I don’t know if I will ever be able to return but I’ll try. I am not scared of it happening again, that’s not the issue, the innocence is lost and that bothers me the most. It will never be the same knowing so many people were hurt there.
  • My husband could have been killed. You will NEVER see his story on the news but not only does he normally work there on Friday nights, he also spent over 30 hours assisting with evacuations and diffusing of the booby trapped apartment, helped protect the President while he visited University Hospital of Colorado (don’t know why he couldn’t visit all the other victims) and then he assisted with the crowds at the memorial.
  • I had NO time to process this with my husband or family. I couldn’t take off work and my husband had to go to training the next week.
  • I had no one to spend time with and to talk with that understood what I was going through on all levels. It’s hard enough for me to be vulnerable but it’s even more hard when I am being vulnerable with someone who doesn’t understand the complexity of my situation. Thinking about it, I should have reached out to a few of the other wive’s whose husbands work at the theater AND would have been involved in the shooting like mine. That left me with maybe two that I know. I should check in with them.

How does this situation mimick the grief from my miscarriage?

  • Exhaustion
  • Jealousy
  • Weepiness
  • Anger
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sleeping too much
  • Not sleeping at all
  • Nightmares
  • Body aches
  • Feelings of desolation

Those are just a few.

This hasn’t impacted me the same way my miscarriage did but it’s interesting to see all the similarities. As a new psychology major, I hope to study this phenomenon a little bit more.

The positive to having experienced grief before?

I know what I need.

  • Time with my family to process
  • Time for self-care

Those are the big ones. I don’t want to watch anymore footage of the incident or see anymore pictures or really hear anymore stories but I know all of that is normal and it’s okay. I will get through this funk. Each day gets a bit easier but I still long for time with my family to process everything that has happened.

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Aurora Shooting Day Three

It’s so difficult to watch everyone else go on their family weekends, go hiking, walking, running, just plain having fun, etc while I spent the entire weekend in bed, sleeping for well over 30 hours, pushing my son away on my brother-in-law’s family because I have absolutely no energy, all the while feeling guilty for it and hating others because they GET to do all those things as if their life wasn’t affected one bit by this tragedy. Some of their husbands were in the same place as mine but many don’t have anyone involved from Aurora PD. Some went to prayer vigils but many just acted like it was any normal weekend.

How is this possible?

Well, let me tell you, this was a HORRIBLE weekend. It is unfair. I expected to have some emotions surrounding this incident but I didn’t expect to be blown away by the sheer exhaustion and grief from several types of losses.

My son had no father this weekend and NO mother.

Our camper sits on the side of the house, prepped to go on our family trip but in reality, it will just be taken back to storage.

I was alone, no one to be with. No one to talk with about this incident or how it affected my family because my best friend was sitting outside the suspects home figuring out how to dismantle a bomb. I needed the presence of a person, not a phone call or text message.

We didn’t have anyone die in the theater but so much of what we knew has changed and will forever be changed.

I spent the wee hours of that first night at my hospital preparing for more victims and families of victims and watched the incident completely unfold around us on TV. The images of my family theater (Century 16 Aurora) surrounded by police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and helicopters destroyed the innocence of that theater.

I spent that morning, worrying and praying for the safety of my husband and all the officers who were called upon to help with this tragedy. I worried about my son, who was woken from his sound sleep only to discover his mother was gone and his father was leaving and he needed to be the biggest, strongest little boy by waiting for someone to come get him.

My old city, the city my son was born in, and the city my husband serves to protect was ruined, right in front of my eyes.

The family theater, the same one my husband and father-in-law and friends, protect on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays destroyed.

One of the most vulnerable places you can be and often thought of as safe, is now a place of distrust and won’t feel safe for a very long time.

You see, I can’t read all the Facebook posts of all the happy people, hiking, camping, doing family things, etc because I CAN’T. My family is off protecting the city and now the President. My family weekend was abruptly stopped and because of that, I lost all energy and flow to do anything. I am usually the one who is up and running around, but today, it was my husband; who yelled at me to get out of bed because 2 days in it was enough. Yelling at me because we have a child who needs his mother and I will HAVE to get him later. Yelling at me because this isn’t the best way to handle the situation. Pushing me out of the bed, pulling me out of the bed, opening the blinds, taking the covers and pillows, getting out my workout clothes and yelling at me to put them on and go jog.

No. I can’t go. I need more time to get through this funk. I need that DAMN trailer to go to storage because looking at it reminds me of Thursday. The day we scrambled around in preparation for our fishing trip. It reminds me of the days before, planning where we were going and how we were going to catch a fish other than a trout. It brings me back to the moment where we were a normal family, the three of us.  A father who teaches police officers to shoot, a mother who is rebuilding a security team, and a boy who has his parents fully available to him when he needs us. But just after midnight on Friday, we were sorely reminded that we are public servants, police officers, security managers and disaster specialists.

For me, I was only needed for 6 hours following the shooting but for my family; my husband spent three days working with the finest police department in the State of Colorado picking up the pieces of all the destruction from one man who had blatant disregard for the lives of others and only thought of himself. Yes, this man ruined my weekend and I am pissed but he ruined much more than that.

He took away the innocence of a child, the lives of twelve people, destroyed the family atmosphere, and brought fear into thousands of homes. He also managed to bring strangers together, others closer to God, and brought Jesus here to walk with those who are suffering.  But I am still mad and I will be for a while, because right now, all I see and all I feel is the death and damage to innocent lives, the massive grief and suffering people are experiencing, the destruction of my family unit, the loss of my family weekend, and the defacing and permanent change to my family’s movie theater. This is the ONLY theater my son knows. It’s gone and people are dead. No, this isn’t a regular weekend. This weekend sucks!


Don’t Be Sad For Me Poem

This was a poem I submitted for publication in an online magazine. It was not chosen for publication so I am sharing it here. This was something I wrote following a friend stating she was sad for me because I was not working full-time as a police officer.

Don’t be sad for me, because I am going to be okay,
I lost my baby two years ago but my life has changed in a beautiful way.
I had dreams and aspirations to be a police officer for many, many years,
But now I find myself wanting to stay home with my family which has released so many fears.

I never thought I would find myself here, in this special club,
Of those who’ve lost a precious child, someone they dearly loved.
No one seeks to enter this club but so many often do,
For many different reasons but most of us with no clue.

No clues are found nor did life-saving measures take place,
And those who don’t even know us will see the grief across our face.
No words can truly comfort us from the pain we severely feel,
And all they seem to say to help is that only time will heal.

I think of my daughter every day but the tears no longer flow,
And through my loss I wrote a book to help other women grow.
I hope and pray that women will find the peace they need,
To get through the deep, deep sadness and the never-ending grief.

I can’t take this pain away, though I will surely try,
To help you through the most difficult time you will ever experience in your life.
You will make it through these days but you’ll spend a lot of time in bed,
Especially when the world tells you the life you’re grieving was better off dead.

No one could prepare me for what I would feel or how much I would cry,
Even though I read many books on miscarriage and stillbirth before my baby died.
You see, I was a doula, who helped women through their births,
And I studied long and hard about pregnancy, labor, and birth.

But I only experienced an infant loss one time in my career,
And I never in the world thought that I would be living on this frontier.
I have so many life experiences that have brought me where I am today,
And now I can help women in a very different way.

So as you stop and think about where your life is going,
And you feel the tears will never, ever stop flowing.
There are hidden blessings behind those tears you will someday grow to know,
And some will be revealed to you through this devastating low.

Because you see, for years I dreamed to become a police officer,
But as my days approached to work as one, I found myself with another offer.
To focus on my family and be a better wife and mother,
And though it’s different from the career I wanted, that career now makes me shudder.

So don’t be sad for me because my road has taken a different turn,
I am very happy where I am because I have simply learned.
That our lives change dramatically when we lose a child,
And eventually we’ll find our bearings and learn our life was restyled.

Trying Again?

I ordered fertility meds again. Not sure what else to say about this fact but I DID order medications. This doesn’t mean I will take them, but they are there for me to use if I so choose. It’s not as simple as just taking them though. They have to be timed perfectly.

Everything with fertility medications needs to be timed perfectly. Last time I used these there was so much involved. Let me break it down for you so you can see what infertility is like.

No ovulation means no period or chance for pregnancy so you MUST start by inducing a period. How do you induce a period? Progesterone. Natural progesterone doesn’t work for me so I MUST start with synthetic. Take these for 10 days and wait.

I am too impatient, so I always cut them in half and take them for 5 days.

Progesterone for 5 days, wait…within 2-5 days, I will start a period.

Period starts….Check temperature every morning before waking.
Day 3 after full flow, begin fertility medication. Take this medication for 5 days.
Day 12, arrive at fertility clinic for ultrasound to determine egg size.
Day 14, arrive at fertility clinic for ultrasound to determine if eggs are 16-20mm.
Have sex
Day 16 (usually), take HCG shot in belly to force eggs to ovulate.
Have sex
Day 18 – OVULATION day! (hopefully) Have sex
Have sex
Wait 2 weeks and see if you are pregnant.

Sounds VERY romantic doesn’t it.

There are many other signs that lead up to ovulation and I will spare you those details BUT, I can’t afford this type of a monitored cycle so I am not doing it this way.

What can I typically spend per monitored cycle?

Fertility Meds – $10
HCG shot – $100
Ultrasound – $250 x 2 = $500
Sex – Free!
Prayers – Free!
Pregnancy Test – Well, you don’t HAVE to take one but I always do. Good thing I got a bunch on ebay for $20.

So the typical cycle is $630/month. Not too shabby compared to IVF.

Unmedicated cycle?

Fertility Meds – $10
Sex – Free
Prayers – Free!

Who knows if my body will ovulate without the HCG shot. If it doesn’t, I will expect a hospital bill for a large cyst or two on my right ovary (which is the one that typically works). We’ll see.

I’ll know in a little over a month and a half if it worked on it’s own (Assuming I induce a period and try the meds).

I have used soy, acupuncture, chiropractic, mayan abdominal massage, herbs, chinese medicine, more herbs, massage, aromatherapy (oils), caster oil wraps, ALL the above together, ALL the above together WITH fertility meds. Ugh! How tiring and expensive!!

Ovulation on it’s own should result in a pregancy within 6 months. The average woman has a 20% chance of conception each cycle. Obviously, I am not average. I have to force ovulation and that doesn’t raise my chances one bit. I completed four cycles not too long ago. A little over $2500 spent and NO baby! That only meant I had an 80% chance of success. Does this mean if I try again one more time I should get pregnant? LOL!

If I choose to take the fertility meds, I’ll blog through the journey because I know many will be interested. So, for those who are following this journey… I am on day 62 of a cycle. 1st day of progesterone is today…

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Already July? A bit on infertility.

It’s July 1st!  We are over half way through the year. Where is the time going?

I didn’t blog last week. Work had me consumed. It is getting frustrating to be getting home so late and I continue to work on a way to be home for my son. He starts school in August and I look forward to being home when he gets off the bus. He loves it…still, and I know that won’t last much longer. He is growing up so fast.

Over the next two weeks, Joey will be in Oklahoma. He flew on the plane all by himself yesterday. I always worry, despite the fact that he has made this trip many times over the last few years, even at the young age of 5! He never ceases to amaze me. He can be such an adult sometimes.

I am still teetering on whether or not to have another baby. We tried for 5 months last year and part of this year with no results. I haven’t ovulated since I stopped the fertility medications. If I just ovulated, we could try whenever we wanted but I don’t, which is sad and hard to deal with especially when friends seem to get pregnant out of the blue.

Should we or shouldn’t we? Joey is almost 9. What’s the point?

Adoption? What age? Baby? Toddler? Someone close to Joey’s age?

I have been trying to listen hard to what God is calling me to do. I believe that if I was meant to have another child, He would bless me with ovulation. That hasn’t happened…but am I supposed to take medication to help with that? Is that what he is calling me to do?

Ugh! Why can’t it just be as easy as having sex?

What would Ruby want me to do? I cried during Mass last week. A little girl walked passed me and there was something about her that made me think about all the life experiences I would be missing out on by not having a daughter. The biggest? Her wedding day. Sounds so silly but I will not experience that kind of bonding.

Sure, Joey will get married but that’s not the same. I look forward to his wedding day. He talks about getting married and having lots of kids all the time and I can’t wait to live that life with him but I won’t have that with a daughter.

Is there anyone else out there in the same situation as me? Nearly 37, one child who is older, with infertility, preferably Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)? I would love to walk this journey with someone else in my situation.

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