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.
April 10, 2014.
I know the day I had surgery.
I know the day we had a memorial service.
April 24, 2014.
I’ve decided that April 15 will be the day I mark the passing of a year because that is the day the baby and I were separated. As long as that little body was still a part of my body, our journey together hadn’t ended.
Our short journey together still brings so much sadness - even a year later.
Some things have changed. I don’t sit in my car and cry. I don’t constantly process a long list of what if’s and if I’d only’s. I don’t feel a sharp jagged pain when I see pregnant women or babies.
I don’t blame myself. That one took a lot of time and a lot of hard work.
I still wonder though. I wonder whether the baby was a boy or girl. I wonder what he or she would have looked like. I wonder what it would have been like to have a seven-month-old.
But these are like little daydreams that leave as quickly as they come.
My midwife told me at the time that nothing would heal my pain but the birth of another child. I really didn’t want her to be right. I didn’t want to feel like I was replacing one baby with another.
The tragedy of pregnancy loss has a way of multiplying into the future. You not only lose a baby. It feels like you lose hope. Getting pregnant again. Being pregnant for nine long months. Safely delivering a baby. These all seem like impossibilities as your stomach slowly deflates and you bleed and bleed and bleed.
But my midwife was right. Having another baby did heal me in a way but not in the way I expected.
A year ago I was terrified I would never feel the weight of a baby in my arms but here he is. He’s nursing. He’s asleep on my chest. He’s in my arms.
I didn’t replace one baby with another. I said goodbye to all those fears and opened up space in my heart to finally say goodbye to the baby we lost.
We chose to have the baby cremated and scatter the ashes. For months, I hid the empty urn away and it would bring a rush of pain when I would stumble across it in a drawer.
It felt wrong to throw it away but morbid to keep it out in the open. I didn’t know what to do.
Finally, I asked a family friend who owns the local funeral home what I should do with it. She said I could throw it away or maybe discard the lid and turn it into a vase.
A month before Felix was born that’s what I decided to do. I bought some giant flowers made out of burlap and mixed in some scrap metal flowers I’d bought at an arts fair but for which I’d never found the right spot. Now, the vase sits on my desk. I like the sharp edges of the metal flowers. I like that I took one of the few momentos of my baby’s short life and turned it into something that brings a bittersweet smile to my face.
They remind me that sometimes beauty can be found in hard spots. They remind me that a year after being physically separated the baby is still a part of my life and always will be no matter how many years pass.