“March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.” – Kahlil Gibran
I should be a Mom by now. I anticipated this morning would be full of such sadness, grief and many tears.
I could sit here and focus on how hard things have been as we have mourned these past six months. I could attempt to count the number of times I have cried or tell you how often an ultrasound or baby picture made my heart drop.
I could complain about how I’m suffering from intense writer’s block or how a month after my loss I was asked out-of-the-blue to come and interview for my actual dream job and had to pass, because buried in that much sadness, the thought of selling myself was almost paralyzing. I could make this entire post about how my short pregnancy really did a number on my body, and the blood pressure medication I was switched to has caused me gastroentestinal issues. (You can only imagine the screwed-up irony of being in the hospital for endoscopies this weekend, instead of giving birth like I had once planned to.)
The month of July has been hard, knowing she could have been here at any moment … My birthday a week ago was a struggle, as the thought we would possibly share that had crossed my mind many times as Penguin grew inside me. Hunter and I went yesterday to a local nursery and bought a Kalanchoe succulent in memory of her, and there were tears from both of us throughout the day, him dreading this moment as much as I have been.
As I opened my eyes this morning on what would have been our due date, my first thought was not of our loss, but the peace I felt now that it was here and would finally be over. I was told by several of my fellow “Loss Moms” that the anticipation would be the worst. A couple of hours into it, I could already see where they were right. Today, I chose to focus on all the things we have gained this year, rather than what we have lost.
The last day in June, Hunter and I found ourselves in Wisconsin, as we had driven to Alpine Valley to see Phish. (For those of you who know him, you know what a big deal this is for my nerdy love.) The show was actually even more special to us, as a few years ago, it was really where we solidified our love for one another. We were just friends at the time, so it was nice to go back as a couple and watch the show together, me not working. There were tough moments throughout the day, knowing we would not have been going had she still been with us, seeing many pregnant women there, and the onesies the band had printed for its fans to buy. Talking about it all as we walked from the lot toward the show, he told me “At least we are out living our lives.” It was a far cry from where we had been just months before, and it was wonderful to believe in the progress we had made.
We’ll both admit to retreating into our own world for a while, simply making it through the day at our jobs and then returning back to the the safety of our home as quickly as possible. But he was the only one who actually knew my pain, who felt it like I did, who mourned for her like I did. We never thought it possible, but we have grown so much closer this year, loving each other on a level neither of us knew could exist. That wouldn’t have been possible had she not left us, and it’s a tiny silver lining to our pain.
I shied away from my friends here, including my best one who lives just two blocks from me, because I never wanted to burden them with my sadness. (All the while, depriving many of their right to take care of Hunter and I, who they love.) Once I was able to start seeing people again, sharing laughs across the dinner table meant so much more. I learned just how many people truly care about me this year, how many care for him. The support we have both received from afar has touched us as well, our closest friends and family doing all they can to help us through it all. My best friend Robin flew up here twice this year, and reminded others of my birthday so that I could possibly feel more joy than pain. Women, who were a part of my life along the way, sharing with me their hurt, their losses, all left me with hope and an even stronger feeling that I was not alone.
And then there are the women who I have never met in real life, yet have been such an integral part in my recovery, not to mention my hope for the future. The Internet has allowed me the opportunity to bond with a small group of women, all in various states along the East Coast, all who have been through what I have, or worse. We cheer each other on daily, sharing in each others’ heartache and joy. One will be here this weekend, and we finally get to meet in real life, after forming a tight bond as we went through all of this together. Two of them are in the early stages of pregnancy, and we all take every blood draw, every ultrasound to heart, knowing how much we want their struggles to be worth it somehow. And they are just a sampling of the love I have found online, as I have discovered such great camaraderie from dozens of other ladies who have walked in my shoes.
We miss her like crazy. Not a hour goes by that I don’t think about her, talk about her, wonder about what might have been. But Hunter tells me all the time that we will make a beautiful, well-loved child, and I’m inclined to believe him. Although I can honestly say that we’re still not in a place where we’re ready to try again, feeling like this time was hers, and hers alone. I know one day, when I hold our baby in my arms, I will know that the struggle was all worth it … I hope knowing that child would not be here had Penguin not left us will help ease the pain.
We remain thankful she was with us, that she’s still with us.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt