December 6 is just over a month away. It is unbelievable to me that I am just a little more than a month away from the one year anniversary of my daughter's birth and death. I still wonder how this could be my life.
I use this blog to sort through my thoughts, to try and articulate exactly how I'm feeling. To name the pain, and pin it down with words, so maybe I can keep it from suffocating me, to explain to people who couldn't possibly understand but, God love them, they try to, and to connect with people who, unfortunately, do understand.
David and I have been talking a lot lately about what almost-11-months without our baby feels like. "Shitty" is one word that gets thrown around a bit. It doesn't quite account for the fact that shitty now feels a lot different from shitty last winter. So much has changed in these past months. The ache has not diminished, but I've gotten better at lugging it around, at keeping it hidden when necessary. It's hard for me to reconcile how I can be so changed, and also still be the exact same person I've always been. It's hard for me to explain how my day to day life has gotten easier (and even fun sometimes), but life without Eliza is still so impossibly hard.
I think this article says it perfectly.
Infant loss is nature's cruelest practical joke. It's investing all of the required time and effort into pregnancy, only to be robbed of the result. It's cradling a body that grew within your own and trying to reconcile the cold, lifeless form in your arms with your memory of the baby who turned double flips in your womb.
It's worrying that you'll forget what your child looked like and snapping an album's worth of photos that no one will ever ask to see. It's sobbing so hard you can't breathe and wondering if it's possible to cry yourself to death.
Infant loss is handing off a Moses basket to the nurse who's drawn the unfortunate duty of delivering your pride and joy to the morgue and walking out of a hospital with empty arms.
It's boxing up brand new baby clothes and buying a 24-inch casket. It's sifting through sympathy cards, willing your foolish body to stop lactating, clutching your baby's blanket to your chest in hopes of soothing the piercing ache in your heart.
It's resisting the urge to smack the clueless individuals who compare your situation to the death of their dog or who tell you you'll have another baby, as if children are somehow replaceable.
Infant loss is explaining to your 7-year-old that sometimes babies die and being stumped into silence when she asks you why. It's watching other families live out your happy ending and fighting a fresh round of grief with every milestone you miss.
It's being shut out of play groups for perpetuity. It's skipping social events with expectant and newly minted mothers because, as a walking worst-case scenario, you don't want to put a damper on the party.
It's listening to other women gripe about motherhood and realizing that you no longer relate to their petty parental complaints because, frankly, when you've buried a baby, a sleepless night with a vomiting toddler sounds something like a gift.
Infant loss is pruning from your life the friends and relatives who ignore or minimize your loss. It's recognizing that, while they may not mean to be hurtful, the fact that they don't know any better doesn't make their utter lack of empathy one whit easier to bear.
My baby girl would have been 5 years old this month. I don't know what she'd look like, what her favorite food would be. I've never had the privilege of tucking her into bed, taking her to the zoo or kissing her boo-boos. I will never watch her graduate or walk down the aisle.
Infant loss is more than an empty cradle. It's a life sentence.
- Laura Schubert, The Heartache Of Infant Loss