Thursday, July 23, 2009

oh, the gravity of it all

I don't shelter myself from babies anymore. Lately, I notice I am trying harder to get little glimpses of them in their car seats, in their parents' arms, in shopping carts and baby carriers. I can't get enough, almost. With each one I contemplate their tiny little features and wonder if this baby will be anything like them, just like I did with you. But there was a time in the not so distant past that even the sound of a baby from across a store would cut through me like knives, tearing at that gaping wound that was struggling to heal and bringing me down to that breaking point, letting that dark, looming sadness right back in like an old friend.

So many healthy babies in this world, and yet mine was not okay. Why couldn't you have been okay? But you had other plans.

Today at work, after witnessing a sweet new family, mom carefully attending to her baby in his car seat, I made a silly statement to the universe, or whoever happened to be in the general vicinity at the time.

"I want my baby now."

My coworker laughed. "You're tired of being pregnant already?"

Already, I suppose. But I will have been pregnant for most of a year next month, and I still have no baby to tend to. Plus, it's not so much that I am tired of being pregnant, as much as I am so anxious to have your brother here safely, healthy, well, alive. I am more aware than ever that I do not have control over this process. And how do I give my trust to my body when I have not quite forgiven it for what it failed to provide for you?

"At least you still have your freedom right can go do whatever you want. After you have that baby..." and then the look, that grave look that means something along the lines of everything changes. You will have a different life.

And what people don't understand is, there was another baby, but she died. And what I would give to be caring for that baby, for you right now, to be living that different life. My freedom? Certainly. My sleep? Certainly. Absolutely anything at all, to have you here, safe and healthy and whole, the way I imagined you.

I know that wasn't how it was supposed to go, but it was more clear to me today than it has been in a long time. I consciously stopped thinking in "should be's" a few months ago, but I wanted so badly to revisit that form of misery today. I should be mothering you right now. I should not even be at work! I should already be "tied down" by that squishy, gurgling, screaming baby.

Of course I am grateful for this new pregnancy, for your growing, wiggling brother who has made a game of pouncing on my bladder every time it gets full. Of course of course. There is no question that I cherish him equally, that I cannot truly wish things were different anymore, because it would mean that he would not exist.

But there was another baby. And you just seem so damn far away lately. There are new people I know that do not even know that you existed (at least not yet). Together your dad and I broadcast your memory with permanent ink in our skin, and there are those silent scars in our hearts, but you are still so...absent.

I guess this is what it will be like. The rest of the world will see my living children and comment on my beautiful family, but to me it will always be incomplete. There will always be someone missing.

What do I do with all this love I have for you? It is so big, so much bigger than I even have room for, and there is nowhere to put it. I ache to hold you again, in a way I haven't in months. But you are just dust and memories and sometimes a presence that is even less tangible than the air I am breathing, so subtle that I could just be imagining it. I want so badly for you to exist in some form, but I don't really know if things work like that. I want to believe it though. I almost have to. You cannot really just be gone, can you?

Your brother is growing so quickly. He is almost as big as you were when I held you. In fact, it was around this time in my pregnancy with you that we first saw you and the world began to slowly unravel. It seems like years, lifetimes ago, and at the same time like yesterday. It is a strange place to be, a healthy thriving baby in my belly and the one who wasn't so lucky in my heart.

People ask me what my plans are now, and I have no answer. Just let me get this baby here first, let me survive this strange cloudy haze of uncertainty, and then we'll talk.

Monday, July 20, 2009

on the other side

It's hard to put into words what the last week has been like for me. A week ago I was anxiously awaiting word from a friend on whether or not they were able to learn the sex of their baby after a follow up ultrasound. I was admittedly stalking facebook, waiting for her update, but when it finally came, it was not at all what I had wanted to see. Mid-conversation with my mom, her words took my breath away. They were having a son, but he was not going to make it.

Right away, there were tears. I scrambled to write something coherent to her, though I knew, I knew so well, there was nothing I could say. That short message that felt so inadequate at the time has blossomed into a week long ongoing conversation that is just...amazing.

Our stories have been paralelling one another in so many ways. She had to make the choice too. She saw the same genetic counselor, the same perinatologist, likely the same ultrasound screen, the same look in the doctor's eyes. She had to make that drive to the only city in the state who would allow her to let her precious son go. She had the IV, the epidural, the horrifyingly uncomfortable labor and delivery bed. She had those wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking moments with her tiny baby. She had to leave him behind.

And six months ahead of her, I felt it all again. I felt all of those moments more clearly than I have in a long time. And I hurt with her, for her, for us.

But I have been happy to be able to be there for her in a way that most other people can't. I know I can't do much, but being there to say "yes, I felt that too" is reassuring for both of us. I just wish she didn't have to feel it, that big indescribable pain and everything that goes along with it.

How strange it is to be on the other side. How strange to be the one who survived, who is still surviving, somehow.

I have so much more to write, there are words bouncing around in the back of my head all the time, but right now I don't have the power to organize them the right way.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

the 9th again

Today is six months. Six months since we said goodbye. Can it really have been half a year already since I held you, since I let you go? The significance of today rushed in early this morning, as I was getting ready for work. The tears hovered in the corners of my eyes, but I did not have time for them then.

Work was too quiet, far too little distraction, and the tears continued to spring up in unexpected moments of silence with a persistence that they haven't had in months. I was barely able to get on top of them, and I realized that I was feeling that weight again, the gravity of everything that has happened, everything I am missing.

I am trying to shake myself free of this weight, as I should really be rejoicing. We found out this week that your sibling is, in fact, a brother, and so far, he is healthy. He flaunted his beautiful spine and healthy brain, and while I am beyond thrilled that I will have the honor of chasing after him as he makes use of those fully functional legs, I feel as if I am grieving the loss of you all over again.

If I am in fact capable of making a healthy baby, why not you? Why couldn't you have had a healthy brain and a beautiful spine too? There is still so much guilt there.

We always imagined we would have a daughter first, and we did, I just never realized it would be like this. I didn't know that we would never get to raise you, that we would have to say goodbye without ever getting a chance to know you. I never dreamed that I would be telling your brother about a sister he will never meet.

I miss you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I don't know what it is--maybe all the writing I've been doing, maybe all the thoughts that seem to be constantly zipping through my head, maybe the hormones that are pulsing through every inch of me--but the grief has been resurfacing a bit this week.

All week I have been feeling uncomfortable in my body. Stir crazy, almost, except that I can't escape it, it follows me everywhere. I get incredibly angry at the tiniest things, just like the early days. The house is a disaster and needs to be unpacked, cleaned, vacuumed, and yet I can't bring myself to be remotely productive. I did 2 loads of laundry today (well, more like 1 and a half) and justify to myself that at least I accomplished something.

And then I read and remember and cry, and yet I can't cry as hard as I want to. And then I get angry at myself because there is the new baby fluttering in my belly, and I should be rejoicing in these moments, cherishing them, because next week we learn whether this baby is healthy, and the world could easily come crashing down again, just like that. The wait is agonizing, because do I even really want to know? Certainly if there is bad news to be heard, I would rather pass.

I am tired. Pregnancy is wearing me out, even though I have had an easy one so far, and I am frustrated since I went through all of this not so long ago and all I got was a tiny box of ashes and a big gaping hole in my heart. I want to scream at the next person who tells me how much my life is going to change, how hard it's going to be when the baby comes. I doubt it will be worse than giving birth to a dead baby. I want to tell them that I will gladly, enthusiastically, give up every second of my free time to tend to a screaming baby with a fully functional body. Don't talk to me about hard times until you have held your child's cold body and lived to tell about it.

And since I have been spending so much time wasting my day on the internet, I came across someone who just received a poor prenatal diagnosis and has decided to carry to term. Which is, of course, a completely admirable choice that I respect totally. But then I read all the comments, everyone commending her for making the "right" choice, for being so brave, and I started to get angry. While it may be the right choice for her, there is no overall, black and white, right and wrong about the decision that was handed to her (us). And why is it that those people who choose to carry to term, no matter what the outcome, are celebrated and praised for their bravery and strength, while the rest of us, the ones who make the other choice, are quiet, usually giving few details about our situation for fear of being judged by even our closest friends and family? What is THAT? Are we not equally strong and brave in making the choice to let our sweet, much loved babies go? What is the right choice for one person may not be so right for the next, and it often shocks me that so much of our society is so small minded that they cannot fathom such a basic concept.

I am getting to that point in my healing where I want to be a voice, I want to make people understand, I want people to realize just how common it is. And at the same time, I wish I didn't have to. I wish I was nursing a 6 week old, not knowing that it all could have been different.

Maybe a shower will wash some of this insanity out...