I made ornaments. For us and for each pair of grandparents. They each contain blanket scraps, a hospital bracelet, and a set of hand and foot prints. They’re beautiful. I loved creating them. It felt so nice to make something for her, to do something for her. My veins frosted over when I realized – it felt like mothering.
Just as I agonized and enjoyed creating a nursery for Rosalyn, I painstakingly selected and placed each flower and leaf for Margaret. Just as I carefully swaddled Rosalyn each night, I delicately tucked Margaret’s footprints into the pieces of her first, last, only baby blanket. I run my fingers through Rosalyn’s dark blonde curls and kiss her pink cheeks; for Margaret I sprinkle iridescent glitter to sparkle in the string of Christmas lights and thread rich red velvet tied in a knot.I cannot clothe or feed or diaper you. I cannot kiss your toes to make you laugh. I cannot spend obscene hours rocking and swaying and soothing red-faced squalls. I cannot wrap you in my arms and tell you how much you matter to your very core. I cannot wipe your snot with my shirt because who gives a fuck about shirts when my entire universe is standing in front of me with a runny nose.
I cannot do those things, so I guess I do this. It is nothing and it is all I have for you, of you. I have nothing.
I had often wondered how women were able to labor and birth with the knowledge their baby had died or would soon die after leaving them. How did they walk through that intensity and pain when at the finish line there are only somber faces and gentle hands – no confetti, no victory? How do you birth death? I now intimately understand that you do impossible things for your children. You give what you have and then dig deep to find more. In that moment, your baby needs you. So you mother.
I would have dedicated my life to your full-bellied goodness. I would have studied and known you deeper than anyone. I would have nurtured your intricate complexities. I would have been your punching bag and whetstone.
I would have mothered you.
You were alive. You were here. You matter.
burn burn it away
like ashes from my skin, cremation
for supposed to be
i am new
I don’t like clutter. Too many things in one space is suffocating. It’s easy for me to get rid of, to make space. But I don’t know what else to do but keep every token, every card as proof of her existence. A headstone doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t fit. She never belonged to this earth, only to me. I keep searching for the right thing to do, the right way to keep her memory beating and breathing. And then it slices me open again. The realization that the real answer, what I really want is to not have to do this at all. For her to be tucked up with my insides, safely cocooned until winter gives way to spring; until the ice melts and bleeds into dandelions.
I’m not very sad. Not right now. I’m mostly angry. Just so very angry. I want to punch walls, I want to cause damage. I want to take the pain in my body and release it into the wild, inflicting it on the world. The most soothing mantra I can find goes something like, “Fuck this, fuck you, I hate it all – everything.” Why her? I can still feel her kicking inside of me, phantom and cruel.
When the fury wave passes, the ebb and flow of grief, I find myself on my hands and knees. Picking up the shards and cradling them in my hands. They prick and bleed but I pull them in even tighter. I’m so sorry. I know you’re hurting too. I know, I know. I know. Can you dry tears with glass? I desperately search for some sort of salve to tend to world’s wounds. It stings my raw palms but maybe I need it too? Healing feels traitorous, bandages like straitjackets.
My life before you never happened and now I’m forced to live without you – how? It’s been four days and I’ve aged years. There was nothing wrong with you. You were perfectly healthy. Bigger and stronger even than what you needed to be at your age. It was my body that failed you. Failed to keep you safe. I would have gone to the edges of the earth to save you, sweet girl. I’m so sorry I wasn’t enough. What else should I have done? Tell me and I will.
My belly shrinks and my breasts swell – painful, cruel reminders of the baby I can’t nurse. Colostrum like quiet sobs from my body. The sage tea I drink to dry up tastes bitterly of anger. Who the fuck decided I should deal with this right now?
“Sister” guts me; I failed her too.
I can’t go on like you don’t exist because you did. I can’t go on like you exist because you don’t. Can I go back? I’m paralyzed.
I wrote last year about the powerful influence words & mantras can have. I love words. I love the process of choosing the right ones – trying them on like clothing and leaving behind a crumpled mess on the floor. I love thinking about the subtle nuances of their definitions and listening to the marked differences in their sounds. As a critical optimist I keep a foot in both camps when it comes to New Years Resolutions and the like. On one hand, it’s just another day, week, month, etc. You’ll lose this burst of motivation by March. And did I mention nobody cares? BUT- FRESH START! NEW BEGINNING! TURNING OVER A WHOLE TREE OF LEAVES!
I’m a proud fence-sitter.
So I’ll don my lemming suit while keeping a good sense of humor about it all. That seems to be the right balance for me.
My word for 2015: thrive.
verb / to grow or develop well or vigorously; prosper; flourish
On paper my last few years don’t seem so bad. College graduation, bought a house, got hitched, got pregnant – on purpose. A lot of wonderful things happened and those blessings should not be discounted. But when I think about how those last few years have felt rather than how they looked, so much of it was spent in survival mode. Just trying to get to the next day. To the next weekend. To the next paycheck. To the next breather. I have some guilt when I think about the amount of depression and anxiety I experienced during what should have been golden years. But there it is. Depression doesn’t often choose convenient moments and it doesn’t really care about what your life looks like to other people. It just is.
Those years were hard. And exhausting. And so, so good for me. Those years prepared me for whatever it is that this year has for me. The person I need to be this year needed those experiences in her hand. I firmly believe that God doesn’t intend for us to just “make it” through this life. There is a reason we are animals and not machines. We are meant to have joy. We are made to dance and laugh and make love. We are made to thrive.
I know this year won’t be void of challenge or obstacle. I know this year won’t be “easy”. We are about to have our little world turned up on its head. And I am so excited for that. I am ready, I have been prepared. God has laid the foundation and given me the tools I’ll need. Let’s go, 2015. Let’s do this. Let’s thrive.
We would have had a baby now. Or at least have been very close to it. You see, tomorrow is my first due date. Had that little life not left us I would be hugely pregnant or recovering from whatever kind of birth that babe needed to come into this world. That is not the case though. And ..I’m ok with it. I think. I’m better, in the very least. It used to be that not an hour went by that I didn’t think of him. Now it is not a day. I don’t want to ever forget but it feels good to be moving towards a healthier balance. September 18th will always be a day that sticks out a bit in my mind.
Our red bud.
So will February 28th. I was excited when we received that second positive pregnancy test although it was a quieter excitement than I was expecting. It was when I calculated my new due date that I felt that breathlessness. This new life inside of me is due one year, to the day, after my miscarriage. Or rather, the day I went to the hospital to have my uterus emptied because sadly that little life had already gone. For me though, that is the day. A lot of life is spent wandering, wondering, not understanding. But in that moment I felt the delicate hand of God.
It’s been a long, hard, exhilarating year. I think would have been a damn good mom had everything worked out the first time. Without a doubt though everything not working out will make me a better one.
I am grateful. For this pregnancy and the one preceding it. For the friends that let me complain about pregnancy without making me feel guilty. For the friends that will let me complain about parenthood without making me feel guilty. Because the fact that something is desperately wanted doesn’t negate the hardship that comes along with it. There is good and bad in all experiences and I am grateful for both sides. The bad makes you better.