Holding on

I don’t remember much from those first few days after we lost Everlee. There are very few moments that stick out – The doctor in the case room touching my knee and looking me straight in the eye saying “it means your baby died” is one of them. Everything else just sort of blurs together as if I’m replaying the whole thing through my own tear blurred eyes.

But in the last few days I’ve had a memory come back that haunts me. At her funeral, during the wake, I remember so vividly right now hugging people as if they were the only thing keeping me standing. Like if I held on tight enough that somehow everything would be ok, like I could find all of the answers inside of someone’s arms. Dear friends, family members, co workers, strangers..l hugged them all as if they were the only thing keeping me grounded.

And in retrospect it’s not so far from the truth. I can’t tell you how many times over the past three and a half months that I have thought how much better off I would be if I was with Everlee. Not that I actually entertained making that happen, don’t get me wrong. But if God – if there is a God – had to take my baby girl from me, why put me through all of this pain, why not take me too? Or better yet, why not let me take her place? And without the arms of all of those people who hugged me that day, sent me their hugs from afar, or have even bothered to reach out and let me know they were thinking of us – I honestly have no idea where I would be. Those warm hugs, then and now, mean more to me than anyone will ever know. Even though I may not always respond to emails, or texts, or phone calls (because sometimes I still choke on my words and they end up as hot stinging tears on my cheeks instead) those gestures mean the world to me. I wish I never had to learn this lesson, but sometimes in the greatest of adversities you get to know who your greatest allies are, and you all are mine.

My blog reached 30,000 visitors this week. That’s 30,000 people who now know that Everlee was here, and she was loved more than anything on this earth can measure. And that means more to me than almost anything.

I often have this reoccurring dream, I’ve had it my whole life. I dream that I can fly, but I really have no control over it and I find myself floating away, fighting to keep myself on the ground. I try holding on to things to help me find my way and navigate a world that isn’t made for flying people but its difficult. Sometimes I just can’t grab what I want. Last night I had this dream and I was trying to hold on to Everlee but I just couldn’t grasp her.. She kept slipping away. But other people I know – maybe even you – were there to hold me down and keep me from floating away. It hurt that I couldn’t get to hold my baby girl, but I was so thankful that I had all of you there to hold me and keep me where I needed to be.

Thank you all. I love you.

Nightmares

I slept for about 3 hours last night. That’s one of my better nights I’ve had at home. But the nightmares keep coming. Every single night I dream that I’m back in that hospital room. Every single night I relive those horrible 16 hours but in the end I never get to hold her again. Not even for a second. All I need is one more minute. Not even my own subconscious can give me that.

Last night also I dreamed I went back to work. I have those nightmares a lot, that I’m forced to go back before I’m ready. I was in a seminar about something and started feeling completely overwhelmed and started breaking down into tears, so I excused myself to the washroom. When I got there a bunch of people I knew from various stages of my life were there – old teachers, ex boyfriends, high school classmates. They all started to verbally attack me. Each of them took turns pointing out all of the things I did wrong while I was pregnant.

“Why did you travel so much?! Don’t you know that’s what killed your baby?!”

“I saw you eat that turkey sandwich, didn’t you know sandwich meat would kill your baby?!”

“You shouldn’t have pushed yourself so hard, you killed your baby”

“You’re so fat! You killed your baby”

“You killed your baby”
“You killed your baby”
“You killed your baby”

Not even when I sleep can I get a moment to breathe. It’s no wonder why my mind doesn’t let me sleep if this is what it has to face.

In my dreams

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Losing a child puts you in a place where the irrational can be completely and plausibly rational. It puts you in a place where you’re surrounded by all these crazy thoughts, and you know they’re crazy, but you can’t help listening to them and wondering if maybe they have a point, if maybe they are right after all. It puts you in a place where confusion is a normal, day-to-day thing. And then sometimes you come out of this crazy place and think, what just happened to me? Did I really think those things, feel those things? Was that me? How could I even think that?

And then you bury those thoughts and try to ignore them and go about your business, but they keep coming back to you at odd hours, and they hound you until you feel you really might be going crazy. And you’re not sure who you can talk to about it because what will they think? And then you just sit down one day and write about it and stop caring what people think, because it’s part of you and part of this life – this new normal you have to come to accept.

And it makes you feel so alone. Surrounded by people buy so horribly, awfully, utterly alone. My personality has always been to help other people and I feel like I’ve been spending so much time navigating other people through how to talk to me, and trying to make them feel comfortable around me that I so seldom spend time trying to navigate this dark and lonely place for myself. Perhaps that’s why I’m awake at night, because its really this only time I have to myself.

Or maybe it’s the dreams. I only have one. Reliving that night. The worst night in my life. And if my body knows when it sleeps that’s where it’s going, then why on earth would it ever let me sleep again? And worst of all, I usually wake up thinking I’m hearing her crying for me. As if she was here. But she never is. And I never get to hold her again in my dreams. Her cries always wake me up. If only I could sleep long enough that I’d get to hold her again.

Once you cross that threshold of grief, it changes you forever. You can’t have any of it back. You can’t unlearn the harsh lessons of grief. You struggle to find a “bright side.” It’s not like losing your first love or not getting that job you always dreamed of. You can’t just tell yourself, “If I try hard enough, I can do it. I can get what I want. I can succeed.” That doesn’t work after losing a baby. Because it wasn’t a matter of trying hard enough or believing in yourself. It was never in your power. You can’t control life and death. You can’t even try. She’s never ever ever ever ever coming home.

It’s still so incredibly hard for me to believe that she’s gone, but everyday I have the physical reminders on my own body that she was here. And no matter how brief and limited her life was, what’s unmistakable is the profound effect she has had on me. Everlee has changed everything I ever was and everything I will be. Now I just need to get to know myself and who I’m going to be all over again. Without Everlee.

When you lose a baby, you lose everything. You lose all the hopes and dreams you held over those ten months, you lose confidence, hope, courage, strength. Your sense of control. It’s all gone. All you have left to you is grief. It’s the only thing that’s real; everything else is just an illusion.