Thursday, March 21, 2013

Back In the Game

For so long after Eliza died, I was shutting down.  I shut down and withdrew from everything and everyone.  Literally, figuratively, I was barely present even when I was there.

I remember feeling marked, not just that I would forever be a bereaved parent, but convinced that that is all I would EVER be.  The mother of a dead baby.  No more, no less.  My whole identity suddenly subsumed by grief.

These past weeks and months have been busy ones.  Busy doing, busy planning, busy juggling all the normal obligations of work and home and baby care.  It's tiring (David recently went away for the weekend to golf with friends and when I asked if he was having fun, he said, "I slept seven hours in a row.") and sometimes it's frustrating (I can seriously only clean up the urine of one living creature and GUESS WHAT Little Mac, it is NOT YOU), and sometimes it's boring (laundry, diapers, bottles, essays to grade, wash, rinse, repeat).

But it's good.  I've been feeling especially lucky (along with happy, a word I NEVER thought I'd use to describe myself) about the way my life has opened up to include so many good friends.  And by "good friends," I don't just mean people who are nice to me, although most of them are.  I mean really interesting and remarkable people that I've gotten to know, one way or another:

College friends who knew me when and still love me now, sometimes in spite of myself.  My BFF from high school who finally jumped on the Instagram bandwagon (and I'm still trying to recruit more friends, hint, hint!).  Grad school friends who keep in touch even though they've moved away and I'm not on facebook.  New friends I've met through work, professional connections that have become personal ones that are fun and make me love my job even more.  And most especially of late, I'm looking forward to meeting up with friends I've made because I'm Eliza's mom and friends I've made because I'm Zuzu's mom.

I spent so long say no to every invitation, to every opportunity, to every decision that felt the least bit risky.

And then we said yes to trying to have another baby, and then I said no lots more because pregnancy after loss was basically all I could handle.

And now--finally--it's gotten easy to say yes.  Instead of shutting down, I see the ways in which Eliza's life has opened the way to people and opportunities and friendships I would never have otherwise had.  It's no even trade, to be sure, but it's also not the dark tunnel of horror and shame that I thought my life was going to be.  I sat out on life for eighteen months, and then started working my way back.  It's still hard for me to believe that it's been over two years since Eliza died because it feels like I've aged a million years since I was pregnant with her, and yet it also feels like it just happened, because so little else occurred in my life between Eliza and Zuzu (You know, because I did nothing.  Ever.  Except blog.).  It was like I was on pause and I've finally hit play again.  It's NOT like everything is better or fixed or perfect now, but I do feel like I'm back in the game.

I've been thinking a lot about that Mary Oliver poem I love so much.  It's not that the burden has gotten lighter--Eliza's loss and my grief way heavily on me every single day.  It's that I've gotten better at carrying it, I've gotten so much better at balancing heartbreak with all of the things that fill up my heart every single day.  Some days are easier than others, but I'm figuring out how to carry my broken heart without falling apart.  It may be irreparably cracked, but it doesn't feel empty.

So, thanks for that.  For reading and commenting or just reading.  For sticking with me or meeting up with me.  For reminding me of the person I used to be or helping me find my way to the person I am now.  For filling up my heart.

And special thanks to a certain little miss who happens to fill up my heart and light up my life on a regular basis.  Like, daily.

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands:

Happy baby = happy mama.

Also I think Zuzu looks a lot like my baby pictures in that last picture.  Could be the lumpy, slightly weird-shaped noggin.  Don't worry, honey.  Your hair will eventually cover that up.


  1. I've recently experienced similar changes. G is older and we're becoming more social which means meeting new people. I'm not fairing as well I'm afraid. I'm having trouble with our story and how it fits in with making new friendships. I need a prepared speech or something. *sigh* I just don't know. I'm still open woundish so it's hard. Not that it'll be easier later. Just different I guess.

  2. I definitely feel like I am living in the present again and it's a pretty nice place to be! Of course it would be better with those that we are missing, but our rainbows are so packed with joy that it is hard to feel anything but happy when we are with them.

    Seriously...can Zuzu be more adorable!

  3. Thank you, Brooke. I really need to hear that it is possible to balance life again after loss. That is what I am struggling with the most right now. It's only been four months, and I just don't want to balance it! But know that your words give me some hope for what my future might bring. So glad I met you a couple of months ago at that meeting and hope to see you again soon!

  4. I really like where you said that your heart is cracked but full. That really speaks to me. I'm glad you are in a good place now. :)

  5. I am glad you are in a good place.

    'Rainbow baby' is such an appropriate description. And oh my gosh, she is so cute! I can't wait to see her soon! I can't believe how big she is getting.

  6. I found your blog ~1.5 yrs ago, when looking for the right words to say to a coworker who had lost a baby - and was drawn in by your way with words, and with Little Mac and Cooper's antics and much later with sweet Zuzu's face (on Instagram too which is a bonus!). I've prob added to the weird location analytics, checking your blog from Taiwan and Mexico and Russia (and likely next week Indonesia). Thanks for writing with such honesty. -Ker

  7. Glad to hear that your heart is becoming full again. Love that Zuzu! :)


  8. I love your beauty-from-brokenness posts.

    Even if, as you said, it is NOT a fair trade.

  9. I think I reached the same place at about 18 months out even though our paths have been different. Perhaps there's just something magical about that span of time?

    I have also let many friends back into my life and am grateful that they welcomed me back after I shut them out. And even though I'm now both a stillbirth survivor and an infertile, I feel like I'm much more than that. Most days, I feel almost like my normal self again, or at least as normal as I'm going to be.

  10. I love this and totally relate. I just blogged about how my husband told me the light has finally come back into my eyes. I too feel back in the game. Still broken hearted, but back.