Saturday, October 31, 2009

halloween 09

"Just think! Next year at this time you will have a little one to dress up!"

Someone said this to me yesterday, and I just smiled, swallowing the first response that sprung immediately to my lips...

That's what I thought last year, too.

In fact, one year ago yesterday, we had our first ultrasound. We watched you wiggle and bounce around on the screen, saw your little heart beating away, and left with the confidence that everything was just fine. For the first time, I let myself start to believe it, and though I didn't know anything about you yet, I wanted to buy something, anything. A vote of confidence, in a way. So I bought your Halloween costume for this year.

I remember sorting through the rack of little costumes, counting on my fingers the number of months between your due date and today. I decided on the 6 month size, and remember commenting on how small it was. I couldn't imagine that in one year, I would have a baby who would potentially fit into it.

But I didn't. I don't. You are gone and your little pumpkin sleeper hangs, unworn, in the closet, certainly forgotten by everyone but me. Like most things.

It sounds silly, but I feel like I am being a bad mother to you lately. If my only job is to honor your memory, I feel like I'm falling behind. Your brother has become the center of attention to the rest of the world. The question "Is this your first?" has become rampant in my every day life, and I find myself just saying "yes" more than I want to. There is no good way to answer it differently without the confused, sad, awkward silence that usually follows. People don't want to know. Is it any of their business, anyway?

The lilies we planted with some of your ashes on your due date have died, leaving behind a pot of lifeless soil. I can't seem to figure out how to feel about it. On good days, I just ponder what I can replant in their place. Other days I wonder if it really even matters. And on the really bad days, I think of course. Nothing else about this year is right. Why would the plant live?

The rest of your ashes are still in the stupid plastic box they came in, tucked on the shelf of my nightstand, waiting for me to do something better with them. Everything I think of feels inadequate. I want them with me, and yet an urn feels strangely inappropriate. And so they remain in their little baggie inside a flimsy box, waiting. It feels wrong. I suppose it is wrong, in a sense, to even have your own child's ashes. This isn't what I signed up for.

Winter is coming, faster than I am prepared for, and it's already beginning to stir memories in the deepest corners of my soul--the places that sickening, heavy darkness has retreated to. Every once in awhile, when it's raining in just the right way, I get a flashback of that terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'm not ready to relive it all just yet.

I wish I could just accept that it all went differently than I planned, and that that's okay. I wish I could turn off the should's and would's and if-only's.

But instead I find myself wishing that you were here with me tonight, wearing your halloween costume.

I miss you baby girl.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

layers of exhaustion

I am really tired.

It's not the kind of tired that sleep can fix, as I've learned. I sleep 12 hours a night on my days off and I am still exhausted.

To most people, it is fairly one dimensional: I am tired because I am pregnant. And it's true, my body is working so hard, and has been for more than a year now. It seems impossible that I ever had an existence that did not revolve around growing tiny bodies.

To me, it's obvious that there are layers to this exhaustion. I am tired from harboring the weight of everything that has happened this year. I am tired from missing my daughter. I am tired from bearing the guilt that comes with having had to let her go. I am tired from the tears I still cry much more often than anyone knows. I am tired from walking this emotional tightrope that I can't quite define as hormonal or just consequential of the circumstances. I am tired from falling off more than I'd like to. I am tired from moving, gathering what remnants of normalcy I can manage, and attempting to put my life back together. I am tired from constantly pulling it all back in, burying it under the surface, and pretending that I am okay--even to those who would hold me up if I wasn't. Even to myself.

Maybe I am okay. Maybe I should be. But why, then, do I feel like I am constantly teetering at the edge of a proverbial line? One more thing, and I could tip into the yet-to-be-defined abyss of unimaginable despair. Why is it that the tiniest thing gone awry can send my entire day into a downward spiral, or at least into hysterics that are undeniably inappropriate for the situation? Because suddenly I am not crying about that tiny thing that happened, but because my baby died, and I have no idea who I am anymore. Still.

I have sadness in my eyes that I catch in glimpses sometimes, when I am surprised by my reflection. There is heaviness there, and it's making me tired. I wish I could explain it better to those who can't understand. I didn't even know her after all. It's been almost nine months. I am having another baby! Her little soul is fine. I made a loving choice.

Even when I can get okay with all of that, when I can wrap my head around it in such a way that I can feel the goodness that came from it (and these moments are rare), there is still my life to consider. When I got pregnant the first time, everyone told me my life would never be the same. They had no idea. I feel like I have been mentally, spiritually, and physically uprooted, tossed around, and left staggering in the dark, trying to find my path again. I am still completely lost in my life.

Sometimes I question the timing of this subsequent pregnancy. Did we rush into it? It certainly doesn't feel like the ideal time to have a baby sometimes, grieving a daughter and struggling to put a life back together. Not to mention the physical, mental, and financial strain it has created on top of what already existed. But at the same time, I am terrified to think of where I would be otherwise. He gives me purpose again, and even in those times when I am sure I have crossed that line, that I am going to be a mess forever, there he is, kicking defiantly. Hey, remember me? I am the best thing that's happened to you in nine months!

I just really need him to be okay.