I really didn’t intend to write a post today.
This morning—as I alternated between packing my lunch and pumping equipment for work, and playing with my nearly 8-month-old son playing on the floor—I reminded my husband that it was October 15th. I told him about the memorial wall for which my colleagues and I had gathered information and put up on the blog, and that I was responsible for scheduling tweets stating the names of the babies that parents had asked us to honor. I explained that despite the sadness behind what we were doing, it still felt good. I knew I was doing right by these babies by releasing their names into the twitterverse. I knew we were doing right my memorializing them on a page on our blog. These names shouldn’t be unknown. They deserve to be known as much as the next child walking this earth.
I knew my own babies’ names would come up in the rounds as tweet after tweet automatically released every half hour under our Twitter handle, @ParentsAfterALI. Still, I chugged along at work with my phone on mute, half-aware that the names were circulating. I was so involved with work that 11:00AM came and went without me noticing. At least until a few minutes later, when I glanced at my phone and saw a friend favoriting and retweeting the just-released tweet with my baby’s nicknames on it.
And just like that—BAM. Blindsided.
I retweeted with a little blurb of my own, trying to sum up how I was feeling in less than 140 characters, and set my phone back down to return to work. I tried to focus despite the grief, sadness, anxiety bubbling up inside. But the truth was that those feelings were piling onto feelings of anger and oversensitivity at a few tweets I had seen earlier that morning, and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I felt on the verge of tears, but I wouldn’t.
Struggling. I don’t understand how grief & acceptance can coexist. I feel at war with myself today.
So I got up from my desk, grabbed my phone and earbuds, and left the office. I hopped right on the 1-mile trail that was recently created at the office park where I work and walked. I walked fast, I walked slow. I turned the music up so loud it hurt my eardrums and gave me a headache. I walked to the beat, I walked out of sync. I walked until my stomach cramped and my calves ached and then I kept walking.
I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I don’t cry in public if I can help it. I just walked and breathed and walked and breathed and listened. I listened to the playlist I created years ago with every song I’ve ever heard that made me think of my miscarriages, of my grief, of my babies. I mouthed the lyrics to myself and stared as my feet pounded against the gravel beneath them. I followed the red line, up and down and around corners throughout the office park, until I got back to the starting point, and then I stopped. I caught my breath. I turned off the music on my phone. And I walked back inside.
I made it through the day. I came home and when I walked toward my son sitting on my mother’s lap, he reached for me. I lifted him and he giggled and grasped at my shoulders (his way of hugging) with a smile on his face. I held him close and smiled and told him how much I missed him. My heart continued to ache, but it lessened the longer I held him close to me.
So here I am. Left feeling like I need to write this out. But what do I need to write out?
I guess that it never goes away. That’s the truth of it. It will never…go…away. It changes with time, but this kind of grief—the grief you feel when you lose someone indescribably close to you like a parent, a spouse, a best friend, a child—doesn’t stop. It’s not fresh and raw and constant like it used to be, but instead sneaky and fierce—it hit me unexpectedly today, and hard, and I almost didn’t handle it.
This year was pivotal for me. I gave birth to my son. He is not my first baby, but he is the first to live outside of my womb. Another NIAW passed, and the would-have-been 1st birthday of my second baby came and went, and I felt a new sense of calm and acceptance wash over me. I watched my son grow and understood that he was my life now. My life would not be my life if the things that had happened hadn’t happened. My son would not exist if I hadn’t lost the two that came before.
And then months later, the ugly pain came back. I saw my babies’ names in the midst of all the other names and it wasn’t some fluffy “oh my babies died but my son exists because of that so it’s okay” feeling. It was reality.
My babies died. It’s not some bad dream. It’s not some sweet fucking story of how my son came to be. My babies died inside of me—twice. My babies had to be medically removed from me—twice. It’s not some “everything happens for a reason” bullshit.
It’s awful. It’s painful. Most of the time, I’m able to see past the awfulness and the painfulness of my past. But on days like this, it’s inescapable.