people keep asking me how i’m doing. texts from well-meaning friends. voicemail messages left by people that i can assume are a bit relieved that i didn’t answer. because no one knows quite what to say. some days i’m okay, and looking at ezra’s blonde ringlets bounce as he runs is enough. or henry’s gap-toothed smile and sweet stories are enough. and other days, nothing is enough. not reading my devotional or watching the boys play or an embrace from papa. it’s such a strange bedfellow, this grief. it’s sneaky, like a transparent twin that you can’t see so you think it’s gone. but it’s never gone, just silent for a little while. then i’ll be walking in target and see a pregnant woman and it’s all i can do not to scream right there in the middle of the candle aisle.
anything surrounding the creation of a new life is pretty much avoided like the plague right now. not because i’m not happy for these friends that have wombs filled with life. but my empty womb, my defective home for the baby that died, aches to see theirs full. some days, i feel normal. there are days that go by and i have my coffee and play with ezra and we have dinner and all go to bed, and i don’t even think about the fact that i should be almost 22 weeks pregnant. other days, my emptiness feels like a black hole right in the center of my being. like in a cartoon, when a giant cannon goes through the antagonist and all that’s left in it’s wake is a hole the viewer can see right through. like that. i feel like i’m walking around with a gaping hole in my midsection.
i have become the cautionary tale, the worst case scenario (but not really the worst case because it wasn’t really a baby, it was a fetus and it never really lived anyway-people really think like this and it makes me want to spit fire until i realize they don’t know. they’ve never lost a baby.) i’m the car accident that you pass by and you have to look because that’s what humans do. it’s why in the hours and days after i lost the baby, i had over one hundred people want to follow me on instagram and around twenty ask to follow me on facebook. we can’t help it, we want to watch the tragedy unfold. before i lost a baby, i did the same thing. i wanted to know what happened, i wanted to hear the story. maybe because i thought that if i faced their tragedy, if i made myself familiar with their loss, it would immunize me against my own. maybe i thought that if i felt sorry for them and left a comment on their blog telling them how sorry i was, it would be like an insurance policy with god and he’d prevent it from happening to me. see, god? i extended my hand to this poor woman, and i prayed for her and i read her story so she doesn’t feel so alone. so now i can be spared from the same fate, right, god?
but she doesn’t feel less alone just because i read her blog, and following a grief-stricken mother’s journey didn’t immunize me against losing a baby. i’ve become the friend of a friend that lost a baby. that mom that went to her 19-week gender scan and found out her baby had been dead for five weeks. i’m that story now. people will recite it and not even realize that they’re talking about a real person, a mama of two boys that sits here writing this as her two-year old wants to nurse and her six-year old asks why she cries alone at night in the living room. at least my baby will live on in the repetition of our story.
all i want to do is move on. i hate being that sad, miserable person that can’t control her emotions and yells at her kids because she can’t handle just normal, everyday kid stuff. i hate that i’m not pregnant anymore. i hate that pregnancy will never be the same again. it’ll never be this joyful, beautiful time where we think of names and look at cute clothes and imagine whether the baby will look like ezra or henry or none of us. the only thing that will ease this awful pain and searing hurt is time and getting pregnant again. i’d heard that about miscarriage and loss: that getting pregnant again is really the only real, tangible way to move on. i felt that way immediately. the day after we lost the baby, all i could think about was conceiving again and then i’d immediately feel guilty for thinking of a new baby when the one we’d just lost was barely gone. i scoured the internet for forums that had information on pregnancy after loss, how fast it could happen safely, stories of successful pregnancies after miscarriage. like one of those forums held this golden ticket, a key that would unlock the door to my happy, glowing future. like somewhere amongst the stories of pain and infertility and stillbirth, i’d find that one person that said, “this is what i did and now i’ve had four babies since my miscarriage, and i got pregnant the day after it happened.” i want to find the book that tells me how to skip the bleeding and the anger and the impatience and the jealousy and the terrible irony of wearing a pad when i should be 22 weeks pregnant. i just want to move on.
so how am i doing? i’m surviving. please know that your text messages and emails and calls are comforting to my soul. i can’t tell you how much i appreciate those of you that have reached out to me. but know that my answer will most likely be that i’m okay, hopeful, looking forward. and know that i’m lying but only because you don’t really want to know how i am. that i’m broken and barely hanging on. that i feel like a leper, and everyone around me avoids me like the plague for fear that they’ll catch what i have and lose their baby, too. that i am angry and hurting and wish that i could sleep for the next three months.
that all i want in the world is my baby back in my womb, safe, alive.
update: there are moms that have lost babies and i’ve left comments on their blogs because i TRULY DO love them so very much and it physically hurt me when they lost their babies. please know that my heart DOES AND DID hurt for their losses, and when i talk about following the story of a loss to immunize myself against my own loss, i mean that i may have thought that subconsciously. NEVER would i read and comment on another mother’s tragedy with the intention of hoping to save myself. i have friends that have lost babies and when i left a comment, it was with tears streaming down my face and a feeling of hopelessness, not with a selfish heart looking for salvation.