I Had a Baby.

One day at a time. one foot in front of the other. I wake up every morning and go through the motions of life while everything stands still. Every morning I gaze in the bathroom mirror and try to remember what I looked like pregnant. I hated how my body looked pregnant at the time, and now I’m so acutely aware of how beautiful it was and how beautiful I was when she was with me. I was huge, but I had a happiness and a smile that transcended my circumference. Now I stand and see a saggy tummy, full of bright purple stretch marks that only serve as a painful reminder of what I had and lost, in so many ways.

It’s very easy for the world to forget that I’ve had a baby when I don’t have a baby. It’s easy for others not to acknowledge what my body has been through. I’ve been focusing a lot of the emotional side of this struggle, which is undoubtedly the part of this that consumes me the most. But there is a part of this that a lot of people forget about, that’s easy to forget about when you don’t have a baby in your arms. The physical side; the pain, the recovery, the engorgement.

These are things I might feel differently about if my arms weren’t empty. I’d like to imagine that when you do come home with a baby you’re so consumed with this new precious little life that taking care of your own physical needs becomes secondary and not nearly as consuming as it has been for me. Unfortunately, I can’t speak from experience, I can only speculate. I didn’t bring a baby home. People are afraid to ask, but for those who were curious, I didn’t have a c-section. I’m undergoing the same recovery process that any mother who delivered a baby goes through. And I’m not spared from the postpartum hormones either, I’m a tangled mess of hormones and grief. My body and my mind conspire against me.

Grief is such an odd “thing”. If am not sure if it’s an emotion or feeling or state of mind or stage or what so I am just gonna call it a thing. Its a thing that has consumed my mind and my body. I don’t know when or if I’ll get either, or both, back. It makes you sad and keeps you sad. It can take away the ability to see the happy in situations. It can smother you like a blanket and take your breath away. It makes you a stranger to yourself. It will allow you to go through the motions of life, but in a way, stop you from actually living.

Still Born

I hate when people call me brave. That’s probably a silly thing to say. I don’t take offense to it, I just don’t get it. Being brave would seem like a choice to me. I didn’t choose this path, so I didn’t choose to be brave. It’s funny how things sound coming out of others mouths and how they bounce around in your head to become something completely different. My ears hear “You’re so brave”. My mind hears “Congratulations on making it another day without throwing yourself off of a cliff”, as if I had some other viable alternative through surviving another day without her. I wake up and breathe in and out and move forward without her because I -have- to, not because it’s a brave choice I’ve made. 

I’ve come to the realization in the last few days that I am now part of a scary statistic. From what I have read, still birth affects 1 in every 200 pregnancies in North America (incidences are higher in third world countries). That’s a lot. More than I ever thought. I remember being warned about miscarriage early on, that losing the baby was a possibility before that seemingly magic twelve week mark but after that it never seemed to enter into the realm of possibility.  As the pregnancy progressed there were conversations about preeclampsia, downs syndrome, common birth defects… why did nobody ever warn me of the risks of still birth?  Nobody ever talks about the sad side of pregnancy. I remember saying a thousand times to people when they asked if we knew if we were having a boy or a girl: “I don’t care, as long as he or she is healthy”. Why did it never occur to me to say “I don’t care, as long as he or she is alive”? 

Before (capital B), I dreamed that each month I would take a picture of my baby with this stuffed Winnie the Pooh that Mom and Dad (Nanny and Poppy) had bought for their first grandchild when they went away on vacation last October. The one that I clutched to my chest at her funeral. It’s just big enough that if I propped my precious baby up along side of it every month and posted the pictures to facebook everyone would be able to see just how much our little baby had grown. This is one of the many “never” thoughts I have in the run of each and every single day. This will never be her one month birthday. Not to anyone but me,  at least. 

I haven’t exactly decided if it was morbid, though it very well may be, that when the clock struck midnight last night I silently muttered to myself “Happy one month birthday, Everlee”, The same way I used to talk to her when she was still alive, still in my stomach. I decided to post it to facebook anyway. To me, even though she was stillborn, Everlee was still born. February 13th will always be her BIRTHday to me, it will never symbolize the day she died, even if we had to say goodbye before we ever really got to say hello.

She would have been a month old today, I should be propping her up against that soft and squishy Winnie the Pooh for her pictures. 

It’s hard to believe, after all that has happened, that I was so scared of the labour process throughout my entire pregnancy. I was petrified of the pain and what it would do to my body. I was scared my body would never be the same. Who knew that it would be the easiest and least painful thing I would go through that day? Who could have realized it wasn’t labour that would change me forever? Certainly not me. Certainly not the people who loved Everlee the most. My baby was born healthy and beautiful, like I had always hoped. My baby just wasn’t born alive. There’s no bravery in that. 

 

Time

If I’ve learned anything in the past month it’s that life goes on around you, whether you chose to be present for it or not. For me, time has all but stood still. I’ve lost all concept of time. Even days and nights are interchangeable. There is only one clear divide. Before (with a capital b) and After (with a capital A)

 

It’s been a month since I felt her wiggling in my belly. A month since I watched my belly dancing. A month since I wished her good morning. The minutes seem like hours and the days seem like months. But time is flying by. Each click-clack of the clock is an accomplishment. I have made it through another minute. 

 

I don’t know what’s going on in the world right now. I’ve isolated myself from a lot of it. I hide things on facebook. Anything that reminds me of what life is supposed to be like right now. It hurts. I’ve been wanting to go to question period since hearing that the House of Assembly has re-opened, to try and resume some semblance of normalcy but I’m so out of touch with the world and it’s so hard to speak to people. World War III could have broken out, and I wouldn’t know it at this point. I’m awful at talking to people, and I can’t seem to make small talk.And what can I talk about…? There’s always this huge elephant in the room that we’re dancing around. People don’t want to talk about Everlee, about a dead baby. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. Nobody wants to think that this sort of thing happens to people like me. It’s easier to just avoid it. 

 

 

And life goes on around me. daily routines are slowly weaving their way back into others lives. People continue to live day in and day out, worrying about all the normal things people worry about. The news comes on TV every night, the mail shows up every day. All the while,  I just want to go outside and scream to the top of my lungs to the world “My baby is dead – how can you go on like nothing happened?!” But I don’t. And time moves forward. click-clack. 

Glow

I remember making the statement long before I was pregnant that if I were ever to become pregnant I wanted a huge baby belly so people would know, unmistakably, that I was having a baby and not just fat. By the time I was 16-17 weeks pregnant I was unmistakably pregnant. People often asked if I was having twins, or thought I was much further along than I was. We joked a lot that I was having a toddler. Everlee was born at 34 weeks and weighed 5lbs1oz. She was a big baby, so I guess the size made sense.

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I always dreamed about being pregnant and having a baby one day. I thought I would be like one of those mothers-to-be on the cover of magazines. You know, the ones that glow. Truth is, I hated being pregnant. Every minute of it. And I despised people who told me they loved it. I was uncomfortable from day one. I slept through my entire first trimester (although thankfully I wasn’t sick) like a hibernating bear. I bled and ended up in the emergency room twice in my second trimester and had insufferable back pain. And in my third trimester I had hypertension and ended up on bed rest and admitted to hospital. I couldn’t find any clothes I felt comfortable in. I hated that my belly got in the way. I struggled to put on my own shoes on my best days. I got stretch marks. A lot of them. And now, there is nothing I wouldn’t give to be pregnant again. I’d live every single moment of that pregnancy again for the rest of my life.

I spent the night awake last night. From about 2am. My mind seemed to be in overdrive, replaying every scenario in my head and how I somehow might have been able to change the outcome of what happened to Everlee. Maybe if I hadn’t complained so much about being pregnant? Maybe the universe thought I didn’t deserve her?

Even writing that now seems irrational to me.

But that’s how the mind works, I guess, when you haven’t really slept in weeks. Every irrational thought seems so real and plausible in my head.

I’ve talked myself into, and out of, a lot of things in the last 3 weeks. What if I had gone to the hospital that day for the pain instead of just my doctors office?

Some thoughts seem more rational than others.

I promise that if I ever get pregnant again that I won’t complain. I will take every moment as a gift and enjoy everything that comes along with being pregnant. But for now, I’ll just stand in the mirror and look at my stretch marks and try to remember what it felt like, and wish for that big baby belly again.

The Weight of the World

I was laying in bed last night trying to remember what it felt like to feel her wiggling in my belly.

Yesterday was a bad day. One of the worst I’ve had since her funeral. Then again, I’m still in search of a good day. The day started easy enough, Darcy and I went to get our passports renewed at the passport office. We’ve decided to take a vacation to try and get some sun on our bodies and our souls. Life is depressing enough here in the winter months in Newfoundland without all of the added torture in our lives right now. After that was done we went to see my doctor.

I stopped taking my blood pressure meds earlier this week when my blood pressure started returning to normal and the pills were driving it down much too low. So she had me repeat some blood work and go see her.

After the formalities of my blood work were discussed I asked the questions I’ve been longing to have answered “when can we try again?”.

My mind kind of went numb after the first few sentences. She said most people (I have no idea who these people are) recommend you wait a year to try again after something like this happens to recover mentally. My heart ached. Then she said that she usually suggests 6 months. Ache again. I don’t want to wait that long, I can’t. What may hurt one person might help heal another. And I know that actively trying to get pregnant again is something that’s going to help me get through this. I know I have to wait some time, but 6 months seems like a lifetime to me right now when I have so much trouble just seeing past the moon to tomorrow when I go to sleep at night.

Then she said what hurt the most. In reviewing everything in my file and considering everything that went wrong, the only thing we have that we can actually fix is my weight. Breakdown. Emotional breakdown. My weight is something I have struggled with my entire life however, when I got pregnant I was the smallest I’ve ever been. I’m not meant to be a skinny girl, I have hips, and an ass (that I love) and curves. But I’ll never be smaller than a size 12. That’s just how my body was made. I know this after years of struggle with my weight and my self-image and self worth. I had made peace with that. And now all I can hear in my head is “because you’re fat your baby died”. I know that’s not what she said, not even what she’s implying and its the furthest thing from the truth. people, much bigger than i have ever been, give birth to happy healthy babies all of the time. But my mind is playing all kinds of strange tricks on me these days, and the only thing she says I have control over is the one thing I know I can’t change. I have weight to lose now, and I will try my damned hardest to get it off and get it off quickly (I’m already back in my jeans that I was wearing when I first got pregnant, two weeks after delivery) but even then, will that be enough to make things safer for Everlee’s brother or sister? Will she tell me it’s not safe enough for me to try again? I already know that I can’t get pregnant without medical intervention, so I need to have her support on this, but how do I make her see that this is not only what I want, but what I need to make my heart heal? No two people are the same in their grief.

She should have been born this week. They were going to induce me. We buried Everlee two weeks ago today. I can now say I have lived and survived two weeks in hell. Absolute and utter hell.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, just trying to make it to tomorrow through all of the pain.

I miss you Everlee.

The Ache.

I spend a lot of time looking at the pictures I have of Everlee on my phone. I wish I could show them off to people, like any mother would. My baby is beautiful. Perfect lips, her daddy’s nose and big eyes like her mommy. It’s one of the few physical things I have of Everlee; her pictures. I have one of her laying in my arms for the first time. Just her. Sleeping peacefully. I want so badly to show them off. Or for someone to ask to see them. But that’s not something you offer, and it’s certainly not something that people ask to see. So, I just spend the mind numbing, dark silent hours of the night staring at her and imagining all of the things I wish I had gotten to share with her.

People don’t know how to talk to me right now. My psychologist pointed this out yesterday morning. I didn’t need her to tell me that though. I can see how uncomfortable people feel around me – terrified they might say the wrong things or searching for the perfect thing to say. I’ll let you in on a secret. There is nothing you can say or do at this point that’s going to make me feel any better. You can’t bring Everlee back any more than I can. As much as I wish I could, or you could. And that’s really the only thing that’s going to make me feel any better right now. But please don’t be afraid to talk about her. Use her name. I love to hear people speak her name. It might make me cry, but it breaks my heart more to think people wont speak her name.

People seem most content to share their stories of loss or grief with me, and although I know that losing a parent or grandparent is hard and heart wrenching, I honestly don’t think it can compare to losing my child – a parent losing any child. It’s hard to say that to someone who is trying their best to comfort me. Losing someone like that, like a parent of grandparent, is the natural order of things. Yes, often parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles are taken much much too soon. But nothing will ever compare to losing your own child.

Your children are supposed to bury you, that’s how the world works. I never imagined in my life I would have to watch that teeny tiny casket being laid into the ground by her daddy. The only thing, he pointed out, that he ever got to physically do for her was carry her to her grave (words that will haunt me until the day I die). I never thought I would bury my child.

What I need and what I want is people that aren’t afraid to be around me. I need to start taking small steps to get out more, to see and interact with people. The thought of it makes my chest tighten, and makes me labour every breath. I get a hot, tight burning at the back of my throat. But my biggest fear is feeling like a chore to others. Im not easy to be around right now, and I know this. And I know I make people feel guilty. Two of my Very best friends in the entire world have both given birth to beautiful healthy babies in the last two months. I feel awful talking to them because I feel like I’m taking some of their happiness from them. I don’t want to ruin this time for them. I love their children so much and I don’t want them to feel an ounce of guilt for being happy. I don’t want to bring anyone else down. And I know that no one else can really help bring me up.

I’m so far down I can barely tell which way is up.

My arms ache with emptiness.