My coping mechanisms are failing me. The thing that I see now, now that my leprechaun has landed safely, is how much I was denying before. And what I mean by denying is not that I didn't realize that I had a dead baby, but more how much his death and the whole experience of actually delivering a dead baby, would impact me and my life forever. The more time that I spend here in 'live' baby land the more I see that I really was looking at the idea of having another baby as a 'fixer' for all of the things that having had a stillborn broke.
Guess what? Having a baby doesn't fix any of it. They are coupled together and yet they exist independently of each other. But neither experience adds or negates anything to the other one. Cason's birth was marvelous and cleansing and full of light and purity. Laying in the recovery room, him on my chest, surrounded by my family, holding my husbands hand while listening to the joy in my children's voices as they marveled over their new brother, the emotions and feelings that I had at that moment were euphoric. And it wasn't the heavy narcotics. It was love in its purest form. Unencumbered and unfettered it flowed freely and I reveled in it. It was, quite simply,the best moment of my life. And I wanted that moment to be my forever. I wanted those feelings of bliss, of perfectness, of relief and success to stay and inhabit my whole world, leaving no room for any of the other feelings or emotions that had haunted me for the past 14 months. I wanted good to win out over evil. I wanted the good to make the bad go away. I was counting on it, even if I didn't realize it.
Instead, what I have found almost two months out, is that I can recall that moment and cherish it, but it is a memory, it is not a permanent state of being. Rejoining the 'real world' doesn't afford me the luxury of leaving any of who I am behind. All of the loss and its accompaniments come with me. They always will and now I have to learn, all over it seems, how to live with them.
Seeing pregnant women still hurts. Despite having had a 'problem free' subsequent pregnancy myself, I still envy the innocent, shiny happy pregnant woman, because I now know, even if I had 100 more pregnancies that all ended well, they would not begin to erase or minimize the impact of the one that didn't.
The fear of having my world turned upside down at any moment still remains. I feel like all my children have targets on them now. My husband takes the kids out for a bike ride and I am convinced they will get hit by a car. I spend the entire time they are gone listening for sirens, the phone in my hand, my heart pounding, waiting for the call that will bring me the bad news.
Putting the leprechaun down to sleep, terror fills me. Will he wake up, will he keep breathing and not become a SIDS statistic? I want to hide him and my other two from the world forever with the hope that I can protect them from the invisible forces that came into my life and stole away my baby and my sense of security in my world.
Last weekend I went to that mecca of baby stores to pick up a present for my niece who was turning one. I avoided it the whole time I was pg with Cason because the thought of being surrounded by that much in your face "you're having a baby" merchandise made me physically ill. But I thought going now would be ok. It wasn't. It still felt like I was tempting fate. I still felt like a fraud. I didn't belong there with the many shiny, happy pregnant couples. I am not them. I felt like the grim reaper trolling the aisles, the reminder to all of the very bad things that can happen, the one who forces others to shield their eyes and turn away, to deny my existence and run in the opposite direction sure in their belief that it will not happen to them. The one true thing about our paths crossing, the intersection of our worlds being that they are not me and I am not them, for now or anymore, depending on your perspective of course.
I'm angry that even a simple shopping trip still evokes such horrible feelings in me. And on that particular trip, the longer I stayed the harder it got. Choosing outfits and toys for a one year old shouldn't be this hard I thought. Why is it this hard for me still? Why can't this be easy. And as I stood in the middle of the store, slowly sifting through the clothes and trying to pick something that would suit a soon to be walking, precocious one year old, the sudden realization of why it hurt so bad to be in there fell over me, bringing my reality back to me. I should have been shopping for Caleb's first birthday too. My niece and he were supposed to have this birthday, and all of their birthdays together. But it didn't turn out that way. Caleb will never be one or two or anything. He will always be the baby that died. And I can't hide from it anymore. And it isn't him that I am hiding from, it 's the 'it'. The pain, the ache, the missing, the longing for him. That's what I have been hiding from. The fact that I really wanted him, that I really miss having him here and that I hate knowing I will have to spend the rest of my life with these feelings. Because nothing will ever change what happened. Caleb is dead. I never get to see him or touch him or hold him or love him the way he should have been loved. And I hate it.
I spent the first year of his absence trying to fill the void with another baby. It was a hard year and there was grief to be had, tears that were cried and a baby that was missed. But I didn't really let the full impact of being a dead baby mom take hold. I was focused on something else. Now I have to see my whole reality for what it is. For who I am. Dead baby and all. I think somewhere in my mind I thought the grief would be easier to live with and process if I had that live baby. So I pretended that I could put off really looking at it until I had the baby in my arms. That way I would be shielded from the true effect it has had on my life. I existed in different worlds, a schizophrenic existence really and I was able to keep each piece of my broken personality separate pretty successfully. There was the old me, the face I put on for everyone IRL, there was dead baby me who existed in the blog world and there was pregnant me who focused solely on bringing the live baby to fruition. Somehow those separate and distinct personalities existed in a bizarre sort of symbiotic relationship. I functioned and survived my own life by having these distinct places in my head where I could keep my emotions parsed, where my different versions of myself could protect me. I didn't know I was doing it, it wasn't something I planned or contrived. I just did it.
But the act of delivering a live baby has made the managing of these parts of myself impossible. It is time to come to terms with the whole of who I am. I can't pretend that a part of me doesn't exist, it's too hard. I can't pretend that having a dead baby was something I had to get through, an obstacle I had to overcome on my way to having a live baby. And I can't pretend that I am the old me anymore either. I am not her. She is lost to me forever. I may look the same or similar to her but if you look closely in my eyes, you will see the scars, you will see the unmistakable void that tell you I am living my life without my son. And you will see that I am also living my life with my sons and my daughter. It is all in there. I just have to find a way to let it all exist together.
And it will start with me spending what should have been the second year of my sons life, learning to live my life, without him, forever.