It's a curious thing to lose a child through full-term stillbirth. It's not until after the baby is dead that you realize that you have loved this baby since you were able to love at all. Your life has been leading up to this moment. You wanted that child since you could plan for your future. That baby was one of the first things on your list. And since that moment, not the moment of conception, or of getting a positive pregnancy test, but since you realized you wanted a baby, THAT'S when you fell in love. Years pass, and you love this baby that you'll have someday. You get married. You start trying for a baby. You seek medical intervention, and suddenly, you get your baby. And then that baby is inexplicably and irrevocably gone. And while your mind understands, your heart sure as hell doesn't. And at the funeral, you want to open his tiny coffin to see him one last time, or just grab the whole thing altogether and run, but you don't. Because even those acts of desperation, of lunacy, can't bring him back. But oh, how your body aches for him. Literally and figuratively. Arms ache to hold, lips to kiss, eyes to see, and heart to keep. But also your body is torn after the hardest labor of all: of giving birth to one you know is already gone. You dread having your milk come in, because it's another reminder of the baby that is gone. And then you're scared the milk will dry up, because it's one of the last reminders of the baby that is gone.
Weeks pass. All too soon it's a new calendar month, and you can't imagine how you're going to make it a whole month without him. And then Thanksgiving and Christmas come and go, and what used to be happy times are suddenly too much to bear. And then it's New Years, and you realize your baby will never live in this year, and unreasonably you're sad for this year, that it will never know your baby. Soon you've been without your baby for "twenty f****** weeks." And then the dreaded day when he has been dead longer than he was alive. Your birthday, new babies being born without major complications, Sundays, the 24th of each month, your original "due date:" all are foreboding and oppressive, yet are only the foothills to the mountain you must climb at the one year mark. A year to the day since you last felt your baby move. A year to the day your baby died. The day he should have turned one. But it's not just those days; they're all two-fold. Firstly because on that specific day something bad happened, but also because of what happened on that specific date.
This last year, nothing has been simple. Do I have the energy to clean the house; to make dinner; to brush my teeth? Is it worth getting dressed? How do I stop getting mad at everything? It's an entirely new skill set, learning to cope through loss. How to be vulnerable to those whom you love and trust, when it hurts them as it helps all. How to be a parent on a technicality. No one wants that. How to be gracious and kind to those whose problems seem so petty now. Nothing is easy and it just gets harder.
This year I have seen the face of God. How can I not, since I have been camped at the foot of the cross? I have seen his love, and grace, and mercy, here in the "Valley of the Shadow of Death." By his help I am climbing this insurmountable summit. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time, sometimes even one moment at a time.
And some day, I will cross to the other side with my arms stretched out, with a smile on my face, and I will see and hold my son for only the second time, and he will see and hold me for the first time, and we will gaze long and lovingly into each others' eyes. Oh, how I long for that day.
I am sorry for the couple of swear words. I really feel as though they convey my feelings and emotions in a way I couldn't otherwise capture. The reason "twenty f****** weeks" is in quotations is because I wrote a [very angry] diary entry at that point, and there was quite a bit of harsh language, because I could not think of any other way to show my feelings. As a rule, I do not swear, but on occasion I find there is nothing else to say. So I do apologize. But twenty weeks was a hard place for me to be.
I also want to add that the one year anniversary was not nearly as hard as I anticipated, and I believe a lot of that is due to my family and their love and support. Last week we went to the cemetery and said good-bye again; we also wrote messages on balloons and released them into the sky. This was more symbolic and healing than I thought it would be. But I believe the sentiment I felt and expressed about the one-year mark can be applied to any year; any time. Whether it be two years, five years, ten years, or seventeen years, it is still a mountain to climb, and the longer I climb it, the steeper it will get.