Not so long ago, I wrote about sailing for another port, about the journey taken from dead baby land through pregnancy and into, as it was, hopefully, motherhood on the other side. Having reached what I thought was a destination, my destination, I now find that really there are no final stops, no place where you disembark. Yes, I arrived, but my pilgrimage continues. While it seemed to me at the time as though I had to choose, stay in the familiar or let go and embrace the unknown, it really was only for the crossing.
Upon reaching my other side, that 'place' we all look to as our ticket out of db land, I was made brutally aware that while I was given a beautiful child, he wasn't a pass off the ship but rather a passenger traveling with me. And as many may have thought or even noted at the time, a part of me would always remain steadfastly in the land of dead babies. There is no 'get out of db land free' card in this place.
And really we're all straddling the horizon, looking back and looking forward, sure of where we have been and so unsure of where it is that we are going.
In some ways I suppose the dead baby mom label has become quite comfortable. As the poem "Shoes" says, some of us will at some point have walked in these shoes for so long that we will go days and they won't even bother us at all. Reading that poem in the early days after losing Caleb, I couldn't imagine ever having a day pass where I wasn't consumed by his loss. But now, they have and they continue to. I don't feel like less of a dead baby mom because of it, I just feel farther removed from the shock of his loss. I have trekked many miles in these shoes and the wear is beginning to show.
I don't know who I would be now if Cason hadn't joined me. I don't know what my grief would look like or feel like. I know many IRL assume that because you get your live baby you must be complete, fixed, all better now. Even my husband said to me recently when I was talking about the goings on in db land, "Well , you can't really call yourself a db mama anymore can you?" He smiled when he said it and I know, having lived with him all these years, that he meant no harm in saying it, but I looked right back at him and asked,"Did Caleb come back to life? Is he here?" That wiped the smile off his face. But if even my husband thought it, him, the father of Caleb, I can only imagine what others who are farther removed from me must think.
I guess to almost anyone, even a fellow dead baby mom, my rights to the whole package of all things db may seem diminished by the live baby. That makes sense, it really does. Not that I am not allowed to grieve for my loss but that I do have something marvelous to cherish now. It has not gone unnoticed by me that not everyone here has gone on to have another baby, some by choice and some by shit awful circumstance. Even here in the world of dead babies, we all travel a different course. Even though we all deny the existence of the 'pain Olympics' it can't go unsaid that truly some of us have a harder load to bear, face a different challenge, bear the weight of different decisions for the future. And yet, we have this one shared thing, this life altering moment, a bond born out of motherhoods cruelest fate and because of it, we walk or sail, together, (choose your metaphor), always.
While I now carry a live baby in my arms, I will always carry my dead baby in my heart. And even though I may look different on the outside, I'm still here, I'm still me.