Thursday, July 7, 2011

Once Upon A Time

Not so long ago, I knew my life story and I loved it.  I was the spunky, resourceful heroine, who got her heart broken a time or two, and worried the freak out far more than was actually necessary, but managed to stay married, finish grad school, and get pregnant all before I turned 30.  Then came the fun part--I'd teach part time and hang out with the kid(s), David would get a principal job, we'd budget carefully and buy used cars so we could take our kids on really great vacations.  We'd have a vegetable garden and two dogs and when we had a bigger house with a laundry room/mud room where we could put a litterbox, maybe we'd get a cat, too.

Many of our friends were all having babies at the same time, so our nights out would seamlessly shift to nights in and family-friendly parties.  I'd take the baby to mommy & me yoga, wear a baby sling to the farmer's market, and fill our house with children's books.  Also, I'd learn to cook.  We'd have another baby, or maybe adopt another baby--I'd been coveting a Korean baby since our visit to Seoul last summer.  So we'd probably have two kids, maybe three, depending on how things shook out.  We'd send adorable Christmas cards every year, but they'd be just a little snarky, not too obnoxious.  I would keep a journal (or blog) of all the brilliant, funny things our kids said.  And I'd keep teaching classes and reading novels and occasionally publishing articles on Victorian literature in scholarly journals that no one reads.  Our kids would graduate from high school and go on to great liberal arts schools and do things that made us proud. Eventually we'd would retire and live on a golf course and travel frequently to visit friends and see new places and return to some of our favorites.

I really believed we could make all that happen.  I mean, I know it wouldn't really be a fairy tale.  And I probably won't ever be a really great cook (that's what I keep David around for).  But still.  It all felt so possible.

I can't see my future anymore.  I have no idea what it looks like or whether we'll have kids.  It just seems empty and scary.

There are moments when I feel certain that I am healing, that David and I will survive this, that we will go on to have a family and that our first daughter will forever be a tender part of our hearts that will remind us to show our love everyday and treat everyone we meet with compassion and generosity.

But for every moment like that, there's another when I can't see how I will ever be anything more than this sad, sad story--a cautionary tale against counting chickens and misplacing carts before horses, a name never to be uttered in the presence of a pregnant woman, an urban legend about the girl who thought that if she worked hard enough and played by the rules, she could get what she deserved, only to get a big huge smack down from the random chaos of the universe.  No matter what happens next, my life will always be a tragedy.  This pain will haunt me forever because whatever we do, Eliza will always be the missing piece.

I imagine the truth lies somewhere between those two scenarios.  I KNOW that, intellectually.  But it doesn't FEEL that way.  It FEELS like a raging battle between the glowing perfection of the life I should have had--I thought I almost had--and the dark, twistiness of the present reality.

The story of my life will never be what I wanted it to be.  Will it be unavoidably worse because Eliza isn't with us?  Will it be better, richer, in some ways, because of what we have learned from her short life?

I don't know the answer to that.  And you guys, I don't WANT to wonder about these kinds of questions.  I just want my old life story back.  I just want my baby.


  1. I feel the same way. I wish we could both have what we

  2. Absolutely.

    I don't care to love harder, enjoy a richer life, nor cherish my time with loved ones "because I know". I want to undo the knowledge I've received since loving and losing and just have him back.

    Perfect little family. :(

  3. Ditto. I want to go back to my dream life, too. It was simple but perfect. Now what?!

  4. Sweet Brooke, you speak the words from my heart. I know, I just know. I felt very much the same and in that uncertain time after Hope but before Angus, there were some dark days, just like this. I just couldn't see any happiness in our future. I'd once had it all mapped out, but then the map got destroyed when catastrophe struck.
    I can't promise you anything as I never did find anyone with a crystal ball, but know that you have a lot of love and support coming your way.
    I know you find it hard to imagine a happy future now, and that's perfectly understandable, but I'll imagine one for you.

  5. The dream came crashing down, it's hard to allow ourselves to build a new one. I feel like I need to protect myself from dreaming again. I'm just waiting to see what the rest of my life looks like after the most beautiful little person in my life so far was taken from me. What could possibly make anything feel alright again!? Lessons learned... Nope not worth it. No lesson can be good enough to replace having our daughters in our arms. Thank you for sharing your dream. I don't feel So crazy because my dream was quite similar.
    Love and comfort,

  6. I think that the key is being able to rewrite what a happy future looks like, which takes time. None of us are ever going to be able to have the future we had imagined after losing our babies, it is not possible. But it is still possible to have a life that has happiness in it too, it is just going to be a different life than the one we had imagined.
    I wish you could have Eliza back. I wish we could have them all back:(

  7. I certainly don't think of myself as a princess, but I did think that if I played by all the rules I would get my happily ever after, but now...what now? I feel like breaking some rules because it's all a great big crap shoot :(

  8. I know. Just abiding by you and sending love. Ack. It's all so hard.

  9. For me it was tragic when we lost Carter. It still is, but the real tragedy (in my opinion) would be to not learn from my loss. I would be doing him a disservice if I didn't love deeper and be more compassionate. I really do try to appreciate things more in life now. Try is of course the key word there. There are many-a-day when I can't focus on anything other than being sad, but that's ok too. (((Hugs))) to you!

  10. I wish I could get your story back, too. Sometimes I still want mine back, so long as I would be able to keep Teddy's little sister, too.

    There's the rub, of course. I still bristle at the phrases "silver lining" or (grrrr) "everything happens for a reason," or "character building." I don't want to be wiser or kinder or more compassionate. I was plenty compassionate before Teddy died, damn it. But time (and in my case, Teddy's little sister) have helped me feel more like this current reality is my story, too.

    I think you'll get to a place where you feel like you're living your own story. But that doesn't make what you're feeling and coping with right now any easier. I wish Eliza were in your arms right now and the worst thing you had to deal with was students' complaints about their grades.

  11. Well said everyone, especially Erica. I just HATE the idea that we are supposed to "learn something" from all of this, etc... But, it is an interesting side-effect. I do love more deeply, and I am much more considerate and compassionate, and as you said in one of your earlier blogs, I am more mindful that "everyone is fighting their own battles". But, Love and Eliza and all of our babies did not die SO THAT we could learn these things. We take from it what we can in order to cope.
    I feel very similarly to you in my outlook of the future, and how different it is from what I "thought" I had in store. I hope we can both (and all of us, really) find a way to have some optimism for the future again. I miss that.
    Thinking of you and Eliza. And Love.

  12. I completely identify with not being able to see my future anymore and even if I could, it seems pointless to strive for something that could be taken away with no warning and for no reason. I am afraid to look further ahead than next month.

  13. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog and your honest writing. I'm not sure how I found the blog (probably off another blog) but when I saw your backdrop of books I knew I had to read! I have an English degree and taught highschool for a few years. I'm a bit Austen obsessed...and started reading all the trashy "pride and prejudice continues" books. My professors would kill me! I love to read all kinds of stuff, even teen stuff...i'm into fun and light stuff right now. The world seems too depressing at times to read more depressing stuff. I know you have gone through a lot and cannot imagine how you feel, and I know nothing I say changes it or makes a difference, so I just say keep going. I even have a neurotic dog! She eats plastic and wood...and food off the counter when we are standing right next to her!

  14. i just want you to know that i could have written this post. you are not alone. and i wish i could give you a big hug.
    i also wish this was about what we deserved, because none of us would be here.

  15. When I think about my life before, it kind of feels like a fairy tale--it was all too good to be true. And I knew I was lucky, I really did. When it all came crashing down, I thought only how naive I was.

    It's different now, but it's happy. With a little bit of sad, too.

  16. After Katie died, I adopted John Lennon's quote as my signature line/motto: "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." I don't think anyone's life ever turns out exactly the way they plan it -- but I also don't think anyone could ever imagine having to deal with the loss of a baby. Grief comes to all of us, eventually, but pregnant loss/infant death seems especially tragic & unfair.

    I'm 13 years down this road, & there are still many days when I'm trying to figure out what my life should look like. :p It's not a bad life overall, and in many ways it's a damned good one. But the point is, I imagined something different. It wasn't supposed to be like this.