I’m not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.
― Winnie the Pooh
The one thing that they never tell you that happens in all of those “What to expect” books, the blogs I read, the magazines I browsed has happened to me, as it happens to an incomprehensible number of families every year. My baby died before she was even born. Everything I dreamed, everything I had hoped for shattered like a pane of glass in hurricane winds. There are no instructions to be found to guide me and my family through this unrelenting grief. There are no contour maps anywhere to be found to tell me the heights of the mountains I have yet to climb, or how low the valleys are that I will have to traverse. There is no timeline to let me know if in six months, eight months, two years… can I expect the pain to have diminished? Even a little?
Despite what anyone says about the stages of grief, sorrow is not linear; it ebbs and flows each day, sometimes each hour, for as long as it needs. There are no road signs, no maps to warn me of slippery slopes, or dangerous curves. I have no idea how many miles I’ll have to travel before I reach my destination: the day when I can smile or laugh again. When the pain no longer cripples me in all of my waking moments.
It’s a sad and secretive club I’ve joined. It’s vastly different from the one I envisioned months ago when that little digital screen popped up with it’s positive symbol and three joyous letters, y-e-s. I was unaware of the sorrow and the grief that lay ahead of me. In that happy, easy time in my life that I now refer to as Before, I never imagined how deeply anguish could penetrate my life.
People surreptitiously glance my way from time to time. They try to gauge how I’m managing in life After and judging my pain by appearance alone. Never daring to ask. Some of them choose to tell me ridiculous things like they lost their pet a few months ago and know exactly how I feel. Or commenting on how I look since I lost “all of that weight”… that weight was my daughter. Others whisper behind my back and hope I won’t notice. I long for them to speak to me and ask me how I am, and say Everlee’s name – she had a name, and a face and she was beautiful and so amazingly perfect. And she was so close to coming home. She isn’t just a faint memory. She is a person.
Even worse, the well meaning people, woefully misinformed people. They tell me it’s for the best, that I have an angel now, that this was Gods plan and comfort me by telling me that I can always have another. Another child will never replace the one I lost. Everlee is my first born. Sometimes I wonder how people can be so stupid. And I’m quickly reminded that they aren’t being malicious, they’re just not a member of this horrible nightmarish club. I realize how little I knew Before. No book, no article, no well-intentioned word of warning told me that my baby could die days before her due date, after the crib was assembled and the hospital bags were packed. Nothing could have prepared me for this – so why do I expect anyone else to be any different?