It’s been a few weeks since we lost our baby while I was at 17 weeks pregnant. I’m back to work now, facing a coworker who is due the same day I was, and shakily looking at the ground as I avoid her, unable to let my eyes run over her growing belly and the life that is thriving inside her.
I am functioning, putting on a smile. I work with children, and I spend a great deal of my time being exhaustively enthusiastic, a trait that is even more draining than usual these days. The other day, a parent of one of our students asked how I was feeling, and when I told her “OK”, she told her daughter, “She’s going to have a baby”. I bit my lip and looked at her, shook my head, no. My eyes welled up and I dashed to another room to gasp in air, tears hot on my face, grief engulfing me, frustration pounding at my soul.
Within minutes, I had to muster up the courage to return to the summer party and paint faces for a smiling line of 45 ice cream-sticky children. I managed. I’m keeping it together while trying to find time to fall apart at home when I need it. And I do need it, still. I cry in the shower, I cry in the kitchen, I stare out the window, feeling numb. I smile more now, and I feel hopeful, too. Maybe our lost little one really did know how much I loved her. How suddenly I realized it all at the moment I knew she was gone. I knew I loved her, but I didn’t know, could never know how very much, until she was taken from me. Maybe she was somewhere, grown as she should have been, smiling, breathing, thriving, and sleeping in loving arms, being rocked and sung to in a way that I wished so badly that I could. Maybe I could feel peace again one day. Maybe she could know that even when I do feel happy again, I won’t have forgotten her.
Then suddenly, I was hit full force with a flashback of the day we found out she was gone. I methodically repeat each moment in my head, maybe to numb myself, desensitize my heart to the hurt I’ve endured. I go over the steps from the moment the tech showed me a tiny blurry lost baby with only a still little spot where there should have been a flicker to the moment, days later, when I awoke from the anesthesia after my urgent D&C to stop the heavy bleeding. There are some moments that are hazy and rushed in my memory. One of them attacked me at work the other day.
I was walking into work and suddenly the image in my head of my husband walking into the ultrasound room shot into my mind. The look on his face; terrified. Absolute love and concern, but undiluted fear. The shift in his features as he saw the tears in my eyes and my face cringed. He looked like nothing would ever be ok again. I felt, looking at him, his heart break. His soul crush. and a tiny glimmer of hope smoulder out in his eyes.
I couldn’t shake this image, I began to panic. My heart raced, my breathing grew shallow and quick. I felt terrified. And trapped. I didn’t feel like I was remembering this moment. I felt like I was living it. Over and over, it replayed in my mind and I suddenly began to feel swallowed up, the weight of the world, all the sadness I had faced was forming a giant wave. The wave crested and crashed down on me and I couldn’t seem to stand up, I couldn’t get my footing and breathe. I couldn’t find the surface. This pain was fresh. I t felt brand new, like a healing scab torn off and sprinkled with salt. Rubbed with salt. And lit on fire.
It passed after some time. I sat on the bathroom floor texting my husband as he tried to make me laugh. A friend of mine who had suffered a miscarriage as well assured me she had been there too and it would get better. I hope it does get better.
I am afraid of being thrown into this fire again. I keep forcing myself to feel everything but I know there are some moments and some details that my memory won’t allow. I try to recall each second, in hopes that there won’t be any surprises tomorrow, but I can’t. It fades away, dissolving like a dream. I fear these moments are waiting in the wings to spring upon me, smother me anew in a nightmare.