Monday, June 15, 2015

Feeling all the feelings

Asher recently moved up to the toddler room at daycare. He's following their routines, washing his hands, closing and opening doors, putting toys away. Sharing. Today, while signing Paul and myself up to chaperone some of the class's summer field trips, the date of one I was considering popped out for the first time, even though I've looked at it numerous times in the last week.

August 5th. The day my babies died.

My breath caught in my throat. After a quick deliberation, I signed up to chaperone that day. I suppose it's better to spend a few hours at a park and getting ice cream with my rainbow boy, who turns two in just six days, than trying not to cry while sitting among my co-workers at my desk, very few of whom know my story.

It's clear that so many people around me have forgotten about our babies. Life has moved on. We have a handsome handful of a towhead toddler running us ragged. We must be all fixed, like none of it ever happened.

It's true that I have joy in my life today. I laugh every day at and with my funny boy. He's the life of every party, and has a harem of little girlfriends at daycare. He's a sunshine, no doubt, an extrovert and people person, making friends right and left with people of all ages. As much happiness as he brings me, his siblings are missing. There are holes in our family that can't be filled by anyone, not even him.

This past weekend we joined other bereaved parents at the TEARS Foundation's Rock & Walk event in honor of our lost babies. In talking with my friend at and after the event, several feelings came up: the anxiety leading up to the event, the absolute annoyance during the event (like why in fuck do we need a 45 minute opening ceremony when we're really all there just to remember and honor our dead babies?), and the emotional exhaustion after. As I walked slowly around the track with my mom ahead of Paul and Asher, I said, "I still cannot believe this is my life." The life of dead babies. Of years of heartbreak and infertility. The exclusion. The isolation. The trying to navigate joy with pain, the devastating guilt I feel when Asher is pummeling my very last nerve, wondering when, if ever, these contradictory feelings will fade.

We're almost to the four year mark. I can look back in my mind's eye to the events that happened on the 4th and 5th of August so many years ago as if I'm watching someone else's movie, detached. But the lingering effects of our journey to build a family and claw my way through the reality of life after babyloss are still very much real and alive.

It hurts my heart.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Right where I am: 2 years, 11 months and 29 days

I've been so painfully silent on this space for so long - almost a year - that it's hard to know where to even start. There's so much to say, but it jumbles all together in my head and my heart: the joy, the pain, the struggles, the happiness, the growth, the setbacks. I'll pick it up somehow and bring you all forward with me. I credit Angie from Still Life With Circles for reminding me to write my grief as it is today. It feels like a good place to start.

In two days, we will be at the 3-year anniversary of Aliya's water breaking. 4:50p.m. PDT. In three days, the anniversary of my induction and their deaths and deliveries...the start of our real Hell. For much of the last year, Aliya and Bennett have felt very distant, almost like losing them was a lifetime ago, something that happened before I was me. Mothering a living child after losing our worlds has been very, very difficult and not at all what I imagined. I had no mental space to grieve. I wondered whether I had really just successfully moved forward without them, somehow. The only thing I've really felt for sure, based on how Asher's first year went for me, mentally and emotionally, was that I have serious, serious doubts that I could have actually mothered Aliya and Bennett if they had survived.

As Asher's first birthday approached, my grief resurfaced, and I found myself in tears and struggling to manage my anxiety (despite continued counseling and Pa.xil). I can't say I honestly felt what I'd been missing out on with the twins, because it wasn't that. Perhaps it was that he was finally reaching such a huge milestone, one that also brought the risk of losing him to SIDS down to negligible. He had been sleeping through the night for five months, he was growing and thriving, showing his personality, and was about to be celebrated by all of our family - both sides - for the first time since his birth. I was full of so many emotions...and also a lot of regret that his first year hadn't been "better"...that I hadn't been better. I guess that's it. Regret breeds regret, which leads to guilt and sorrow...and those roads lead to Aliya and Bennett.

Now, right on the cusp of our 3-year anniversary (how is that even possible?), even though just a few days ago I remarked to another BLM I know in the flesh (who lost her daughter 11 years ago, so is a veteran) how ok I was at the time...now, for the last two days, the tears have been freely flowing, right under the surface. Last week the dates meant nothing to me (I had to really think about them and their significance to our loss story), but BOOM, yesterday, August 1st, it all came flooding back. It's a cluster, timing-wise...I decided to wean myself off the Pa.xil last weekend (yeah, don't know what I was thinking), I'm PMSing (and spotting, incidentally, the exact same color and consistency as I was this time 3 years ago, although this time it only harkens my cycle, not impending tragedy), and it's anniversary week. Paul's left to go fishing last night, so I had the house and Asher to myself. The anxiety gave me a run, causing me to shut and lock any windows that could possibly allow an intruder to slip in overnight, even thought it was so damned hot in the house and I knew shutting those windows would prevent a good cooling off (I was right). Then, getting ready for bed, I needed Asher. He was sound asleep, but I crept in and put my hands on him to feel him breathe (like Paul and I both do every.single.night, just to be sure). I sat in his rocking chair, quiet as a mouse, listening to him breathe. He stirred, and I then felt like an idiot because if he awoke, it would be my fault! (He didn't, and I was able to slip back out, undetected.) Today, while he napped, I watched Notting Hill...and even the sweet places in the movie that bring me to happy tears then brought me to sobbing for myself, my babies, my fears. God help me.

Sometimes it pulls at my heart to see 2-year olds playing together, but not always. I always notice twins still, but, thankfully, rarely see girl/boy twins of that age. But as Asher works on standing and walking, and is becoming increasingly in need of reassurance and hugs (mama, really), that's where it grabs me. I am missing those hugs around the neck. I am missing those silly grins and the belly laughs...the sharing of blueberries and pacifiers, the "MumMum" and "Mama". And that hurts so much.