Everything is complex now, even time. Actually, especially time. As the distance from February 2, 2018 grows I learn a little more, with each passing week, on how to make space for my pain. Whether it is time in the shower, my warm up walk before running or burying my head into a book about loss, that is sure to help me release the buildup and the tears. I continue to toss around ideas on how I will keep Marshall’s memory alive, and how I want to help other loss Mommas. Though I am realizing lately that the distance hasn’t been sufficient enough for me to do some of the things I really want to do, just not quite yet. The distance is good, but I don’t like it all that much.
I don’t like it because I am afraid I will forget. I am afraid I will forget the details and the depths of the feelings for the short, beautiful life of my first-born child. His scent for the bit of time I held him, what he felt like against my chest, the image of holding him while his Dad stroked his head, and telling my sister how perfect he was, I’m afraid I’ll lose these memories and more. Yet, I seem certain the most difficult moments are the ones I will never be able to forget.
I won’t forget telling one of the doctors that, despite measuring more than a week behind, I didn’t want an ultrasound because we’d hear the baby’s heartbeat. But then we didn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. I won’t forget the phone calls I had to make. I won’t forget telling the nurse, who’d only started her shift a couple of hours before, that she could wheel my son away, in that hospital version of a bassinet his body was resting in. I won’t forget leaving that hospital on that cold, snowy February day, with empty arms.
23 weeks, 6 days. Counting up the weeks. The 6-month mark looms, and my anxiety is growing about that mark in time. It’s true, what they say about the frequency of the pain decreasing with time. But, it is also true that, on many occasions, the sting of the pain is still as deep – distance doesn’t lessen the blow. It still knocks me off my feet, steals my breath and leaves me wishing I will one day wake up from this obscenely long nightmare.
And now I am counting down the days to something that is, once again, complex. I am counting down the days until I start taking the medications that I need, to help my body do the things it needs to do, in order to, hopefully, achieve the miracle of pregnancy again. First one drug, several days later another and then a while later, if the ultrasound indicates that the second drug did its job, I can give myself an injection. I’ve never wanted to administer a hormone, via a needle, to myself so badly. Except, this time around, there are so many more “what ifs”. What if the medicine doesn’t work this time? What if it takes months, more heartbreak, until we get pregnant again? What if we aren’t able to get pregnant again? And…what if we lose another baby? Could I even survive that last what if?
These are only a few of the myriad of questions, what ifs and fears that exist and grow inside of me. While I have the date etched in my head of when we might be able to get pregnant again, I also try to prepare myself emotionally, for the reality that it might not happen right away. I don’t think it matters though. No matter how much I try to root myself in the potential of that reality, in some attempt to protect my heart, I know my hopes will be shattered nonetheless, at least for a little while, if we don’t get pregnant with the first round of fertility drugs.
I deeply want another pregnancy, another baby and to grow our family from three to four. I know once I am pregnant again I will have to balance a whole new set of emotions. Kind of like how I balance the desire to have another baby, with the guilt of that same desire. The guilt of wanting another baby so quickly, because I don’t have my first. I know to the depths of my soul that another baby will never be a replacement for Marshall, I don’t want a replacement for him. He never can be replaced. Yet somehow, every so often, I feel as though that is what I would be doing, and how others might perceive it.
But still, I long to hold a tiny, healthy, breathing miracle of our own, in my arms. And yet another guilt, the guilt of putting so much pressure, the pressure of redemption, on my potential next pregnancy and child. My next child deserves the same love and care I gave Marshall, without all that weight. I only hope that that I can balance on that fine, elusive line, somewhere in the gray area. The gray area of enjoying all those milestones of another pregnancy and the firsts with a healthy, living baby, mingled with the sorrow that will undoubtably come for still longing for those very experiences with my first child. I hope that I can give my future children a special, one of a kind love, that can only be given by a Mom who has experienced this loss. I hope they will help me carry on their big brother’s life.
In one of the books I read recently, another loss Mom, to some degree, equated the fear of forgetting the memory of the baby we lost, with the birth of subsequent child, to that of a parent fearing a lack of time, attention and love for their firstborn child, when they have a second. I appreciated this thought, and at first, I agreed, quite matter-of-factly. But the more I mulled this over, the less I agreed. Not that I fully disagree, but there is certainly a distinct and far more painful matter of the heart, in the fear of forgetting a child you still so desperately long for but can’t have.
Its all complex, the healing, the deep pain that will last forever, the immense love that still grows for Marshall, the joy that my son brought to my life. And time, time is so complex. Sure, time is healing, but time also takes me further from the short period of time, that I got to spend here on earth with Marshall, further away from the all too few moments I got to hold his perfect body. All the while I still don’t look like a Mom, even though I am. I keep breathing, I keep waking up each morning grasping for God and fall asleep each night reminding myself to trust Him. Trusting Him is really the only thing that does help me find hope beyond my fears.