Once upon a time, I wanted to write. Fiction stories, mainly. I wrote story after story. Thanking my lucky stars I went to a high school that offered Creative Writing as an elective. And you know what? I was a pretty good writer.
I never pursued it. I wasn't so good with the grammar (as I am sure you have figured out by now) or making a point. Or following a train of thought. I really didn't enjoy English classes and learning about grammar either. When I got to college, I majored in Social Work and writing took a back seat. Quite a few years later, I took a creative writing class through a community education class. Once again, I really enjoyed it, but I think I realized I wasn't that great of a writer. I was average, I just enjoyed doing it.
I do think I write about him fairly well. I think my feelings with him do come pouring out. It may be a mubled mess but I try my best to convey what I am feeling. I was asked to write a piece for a local newsletter for an organization that has helped us in our grief process. It was about having a living child after a loss and if they liked it, maybe they would use it. I tried NOT to get excited. I knew they probably wouldn't use it, as they have asked me to write other stuff they have never published. The funny thing is, when it comes to him, getting to talk about him or write about him: I just love it. It is another way I have to keep his memory going. It is another way to parent him. I was pretty sad to receive an email back saying "Gee, that was nice. Thanks!" So, yeah. Obviously, my hopes and dreams of finally being a plublished writer have been dashed. It makes me cry when I read it, it made Hub cry when I read it to him. So, there!
For your reading pleasure, however, I have included it below. I have taken the names out as I try to keep this blog as anonymous as possible.
A piece of him. A piece of her. Our version of a family.
I think it is an understatement to say we were shocked when our son was stillborn at 40 weeks. We planned 9 months for his arrival and were left with a few precious photos and an urn full of his ashes. After his death, I would often wonder out lout if I had really been pregnant. Had I really prepared a nursery? Had I really given birth? It felt like a gigantic game of pretend. A game everyone around me joined in on, and one day, we all just stopped pretending. A piece of me was gone. How could we begin to move through the grief that now surrounded our lives?
I became pregnant with our daughter 10 months after losing him. We suffered a miscarriage in betweenm so not only did we have the worry about a stillbirth; we had the worry about a miscarriage. We knew the grim realities. But, as a fellow loss mom once told me “When the fear of having a loss outweighs the desire to have a living child, I will stop trying.” So we kept trying.
My pregnancy with her was a roller coaster from day one. It was long, it was stressful, and it was joyous. Each kick, each wiggle, each time I heard her heartbeat or saw her on the ultrasound, I drank that moment in. I tried my best to be optimistic; I tried to push the fear away. I worked hard, very hard, to get my daughter here safely. Each day slowly, and I do mean slowly, inched by.
I was shaking as I was being prepared for my c-section. “It is cold in here,” I remember the nurse saying. That isn’t why I was shaking. On some level, I wasn’t convinced she would be born alive. All I knew was stillbirth. All I knew was 9 months of pregnancy and going home empty handed.
She was born screaming, which for a mom of only a silent baby, was a welcomed sound. “I want her to keep crying,” I told Hub. He just nodded. Smiled. Told me to look to my right, I could see her under the warming lights. “Is she okay?” “She’s perfect.”
We often will say the day he was stillborn was not our worst day. How could it be? We got to hold our son for the first time. We got to finally see his face after 40 long weeks. Yes, that day had some of our worst moments, but it will never be our worst day. It was all so different with her. It was all so normal. Her birth was everything we had been dreaming about. She was here. She was okay. She was coming home with us. The first time I held her felt like pure and utter relief. No one was sad. Everyone was happy. We had our baby.
We know she will grow up, and dream her own dreams. But right now, we are living our dream come true. It is a dream that was born out of losing him. After saying goodbye to him, I wanted to be the parent of a living child. I never thought that would be a dream, a want, and a desire of mine. I thought when I got pregnant with him, that was a given. But then I became the parent of a stillborn child. So, in his death, new dreams were born.
Grief is a funny thing. The first time she started to all out giggle, my eyes welled with tears. She was giggling! But I would never hear his giggle. The other day, she cut her first two teeth. Sadness overwhelmed me. Yes, I never had the chance to discover his first teeth, but on a deeper level, the grief that it is all going so fast hit me like a ton of bricks.
Hub and I have desperately tried to put the brakes on each day that is flying by. For so long we wanted time to hurry up. We wanted past that first year after losing him, past that intense, pain. Then, we wanted to get to the finish line of her pregnancy. We wished for the better part of 18 months for time to hurry up. Well, it finally is, but right when I want it to slow down. Each little milestone means so much to us. We don’t take a moment for granted. We know what it is like to wish we had our child with us, and this is everything we had hoped for. We do our best to live in the moment.
Her birth has been one of our greatest blessing. I cannot say it has healed us, because I don’t think you ever heal after losing a child. You learn a new normal. You learn to live with a piece of yourself forever missing. I lost a piece of my heart, a piece of myself, when he left us. But she gave me a new piece of my heart. It isn’t the same one he took with him, but that new piece; I think it is called joy.
Wherever my children are, they are forever the pieces of my heart. And for that, I am eternally grateful.