Today is the first day I have driven a car since the day I drove myself to the birthing center (where I saw the midwives) when I suspected my water broke. Today I drove myself to church to receive condolences for Miriam's passing. Her "passing". I still have a hard time saying death. Or died. But, it's true. My very loved baby died. A nightmare.
Tuesday is my birthday. I will be 32. I remember feeling sad on my 30th birthday. I had wanted to be nearly done building my family by then. I was on track when I got married at 22. But, at 30 I was waiting for our second child in a longer than anticipated adoption wait. I didn't mind turning 31. I was pretty excited about 32 this year. I was to be almost 23 weeks pregnant with our third child. I felt so lucky and grateful for how life turned out. Turns out the day I turn 32 I will be attending a support group for moms that have experienced infant loss. Definitely not pregnant. Definitely no third child to bring home.
The day before my water broke I totally cleaned out my closet of the clothes that didn't fit me anymore. I figured I would stick with maternity clothes for the rest of pregnancy and post-partum for awhile. The day we came home from the hospital after Miriam's birth and death I cleaned all the maternity clothes from my closet to give back to the loaner or box up to be donated. I still don't fit in my normal clothes, so my closet is pretty empty. It's ok though. It matches me.
I can't believe I didn't like my body when pregnant. I didn't like how big my arms were, or how my body felt unfamiliar and "fat." I would give anything to still be pregnant and uncomfortable in my body. I hate that I didn't appreciate every single aspect of pregnancy while I had it. How foolish I was to think I would have a normal, healthy pregnancy. I should have known. I'm out of sorts and uncomfortable in this body I wear. This body that failed our precious girl. I can't figure out if I should blame my body or God. Who else is there to blame? I wish she had been sick, so that I would feel more at peace about her passing. But she wasn't sick. She was healthy. My body failed her.
I am a most despised woman. How could God allow this to happen? Isn't pregnancy about life and not death? For everyone else it brings life. For me, just death. The years of infertility felt like my life struggle. It was my biggest fear and I had conquered it. I didn't even know I was supposed to fear birthing a dead baby. If only I knew how easy my years of infertility were compared to losing a child that was so difficult to conceive. Together they are unbearable.
There are at least 5 vases of flowers in our house. All sent with love and beautiful. But I hate them. I want to throw all the vases on the floor in rage. I don't want flowers. I want my baby. Dozens of people say to let them know how they can help. I wish they could help. But no one can help when your baby dies. The only thing I want is HER. But, we don't even have sweet or cherished memories of her to remember her. There is literally no way to remember her smile or her laugh or how her chest moved up and down while she slept. In those moments when we held her she was lifeless. Those hours with her were priceless, but gut wrenching. They are our only memories. I never even got to feel her kick.
What is normal life supposed to be? I thought if we lost her life would go back to "normal" with our two amazing kids. But, there is no normal. There is grieving and there is functioning. And grieving while functioning. Yesterday I functioned pretty well. The buddy told me his favorite band is Earth, Wind, and Fire. I smiled. We met new neighbors. What a normal thing to do. Meet new people. But there were only 4 of us there. There should have been 5.
I remember reading a book about the pain in our lives. How the temptation was to go around it. Over it. Under it. But you can't. You must go through it. I'm in the middle of it. Sitting in the struggle and looking around so tired. How do you get the strength to hack through the forest of grief? Does the forest eventually get thinner so there is less to push through? Does it get normal to live in the middle of the trees of grief? Or do you eventually find yourself in a field instead of a forest? Does that ever happen? Is that heaven?
Today I woke up. I even got dressed. I sat and stared for awhile. Will life always go so slowly? I feel like if I make it to the end of the day there will be relief. There must be, right? But, night comes and I cry. I cry for what could have been. What should have been. I wake in the night panic stricken. How could that past 3 weeks of my life been my reality? They must have been a nightmare, right? Won't I wake up one morning and this will all be a bad dream? How can this be real? How can this be what we're walking through. I check my email and facebook and the mailbox. Maybe there will be hope in one of those places. There are notes of sympathy. There are people checking in. It's a comfort to know we are thought of and prayed for often. Some notes touch our hearts so deeply that I weep out loud. Sometimes just a single tear rolls down my cheek as I am reminded that we are all loved. People offer to help carry our grief. How does that happen? Maybe it's already happening and the path would look even darker without it.
It's dark. I have survived another day. I wash my face and look in the mirror. Is that really my face? Where is the smile? The light? Is that really my skin? My hair? Are those tired eyes really mine? Maybe if I scrub hard enough the pain will go away. Or the skin. Would new skin help? I watch Dave sleep. His hands are by his face. Just like Miriam's always were in her ultrasounds. I wonder if she got that from him. She had his nose. My lips. That's all I know. Would she have laughed like me? Throwing back her head with a deep and hearty laugh that I got from my mom? I wonder when I will laugh like that again.
I weep. I type. I read. I think. I pray. I eat. And pray some more. And cry again. I smile at the kids. Feed them supper and tuck them in. Then, if I am lucky, I will sleep too.