I get asked a lot of questions about parenting and birth. 5 pregnancies, 3 kids, 2 home births, 1 hospital birth, 1 miscarriage, and 1 pregnancy loss doesn't make me a doctor, but it does leave me with a special kind of expertise.
It happens every time I fill out a new medical form for one of my boys. Can your child do this? Can your child do that? I go down the list of questions checking one “yes” box after another. I leave the lines to describe any developmental delays or physical issues blank.
As I looked over the form, my eyes welled up with tears and I start to cry. I feel incredible gratitude, but I also feel such sadness. Sadness because I know it was a moment Annie has never gotten to have
Last year, my family experienced a tragedy. At 20 weeks pregnant, I found out the baby I was carrying was no longer alive. It was an incredibly difficult time made easier by family and friends - and even strangers - who reached out and said they understood or they couldn’t understand but that they loved us and were there for us just for the same.
This post is not about those people.
This post is about the people who wanted to seem thoughtful or sympathetic or supportive but who were actually there for themselves - not me or my family.
I call those people tragedy trolls.
Although memories may bring pain, they also bring comfort, for as long as you remember, this child is still part of you.
I don’t know the exact moment our baby died. It’s a strange thing the not knowing. It seems like something I should know. I should know the precise moment everything changed. It seems like that is the moment I should take to remember the passing of a year.
I know the day I found out the baby was gone.
I would never have described myself as a perfectionist. My house is frequently cluttered. My desk is covered with projects and reminders and stray papers. My kitchen floor is filthy.
For the longest time, my desktop was giant colorful graphic proclaiming "DONE IS BETTER PERFECT." That creed is not empty words to me. I believe it. I don't let perfection slow down my desire to complete a project. Perfectionism is paralyzing, as I would often lecture other people.
No, I was not a perfectionist.
I've recently realized that perfectionism is a deep, deep river that flows far beneath my attitude towards my house's cleanliness or craft projects. Just because I'll publish a blog post with typos or slap together class treats that are far from Pinterest-worthy doesn't mean that perfectionism doesn't affect me.
The perfectionism that haunts me is far more insidious and harmful.
It's odd carrying around two due dates in your head. One filled with sadness. One filled with hope.
The baby we lost in April was due today, September 2nd.
Due to particularly bad planning on my part, I'm also almost 16 weeks in this pregnancy, which is when the baby passed away.
In other words, I'm an emotional wreck.
Two due dates. Two pregnancies. Two babies. As hard as I try to keep them separate in my mind, I'm constantly comparing the two. Trying to find differences big and small between the two pregnancies to assure myself that this pregnancy will be different. I'm forever tallying symptoms and side effects in my mind trying to reach the conclusion that this baby will arrive safely in February.
But no symptom is going to erase one simple reality.
My baby died and I am still very very sad about that and I am terrified that something will happen to the baby I am currently carrying.
I know each pregnancy is as different as each child. I know that the chances of something going wrong again are slim. I know all these in my head.
But my heart is another story. In my heart I loved the baby I lost and I am still mourning. I still want to know why my baby died. I still relive that awful moment when the nurse told me my baby didn't have a heartbeat.
And in my heart I am falling deeper and deeper in love with the little one currently inside of me. My heart still so raw from before is being asked to expand again, to be vulnerable again, to love again.
It's. So. Hard.
I knew it would be hard but I had no idea how hard.
I have a little announcement.
This little announcement is 12 weeks old and is about the size of a lime.
This little announcement is due at the end of February.
I once heard a man interviewed on NPR. This man’s entire family had been killed in a raid on his village. He was telling the reporter that for many years he drank heavily in an attempt to cope with the trauma. Then he said, “I tried to drown my sorrows and then I realized they could swim.”
That quote has never left me. The image of ever-present sorrow was a powerful one to me. Sorrow and grief are something I became familiar with at a young age and the impact of that experience is something I’m still trying to understand.