I have been thinking about you a lot lately. And then today I read a blog post from the baby loss community and it made me realize so many things about our journey.
People dance around their feelings out of fear of someone thinking they are wrong. I,too, am guilty of this, I don't post things because I often worry how they will be perceived. That being said, I am a new me and I'm stepping out from behind that curtain and talking more openly. More honestly. Let me be clear, this post is not for the faint of heart. It's a mess and some of it ugly. But it's my mess and I wouldn't change it for the world.
We dance around words. Try to make things prettier than they are. The fact is, you died. You didn't get to greet this world with screaming. You came into this world silently. I remember the moments vividly. But saying that you died sounds ugly so I waltzed around it and used nicer words when speaking of our story.
Even as I held your lifeless body in my arms, I felt many things. I was heartbroken beyond the explanation of mere words. But I had an overwhelming sense of pride. Mixed with my grief was a small joy. You were BEAUTIFUL and I made you. I was a proud mother. I was proud of the sheer divinity that I had created. I felt that there was no truer words than the saying 'too beautiful for earth'.
According to the etiquette of life, as given to us by society, it was wrong for me to have that moment of pride when the circumstances were nothing but cumbersome. But, Harper Lynn, you were beautiful and I was proud! I looked at your sweet little face, laying in my arms so peaceful and I cried.
I wept because you would never see the nursery, you would never meet your siblings and no longer would you hear the sound of my voice whisking you away to dreamland. I wept because of your perfect little face, and perfect tiny fingers and perfect tiny toes. I sobbed as I held you, from pain, from pride. How could grief and joy mix so harmoniously on July 12, 2010? That's not right. I shouldn't have felt those things together. Or so I am told.
I spent the next 12 hours with you. Hoping, wishing that things were different. Yet I found smiles amongst the tears as I ran my hands over your short black hair. It reminded me of your grandma. I sat in a sobering silence as the nurse wheeled you out of my room for the last time. I gazed upon the bassinet which held my daughter. The one who died.
I sat in silence for the rest of the day. The nurses came in and out, feeding me pills to make me forget. But how do you forget losing a piece of your own soul? People came in and out, I spoke, mostly out of a drugged stupor. Remember not the things I said because I don't.
I remember listening to a newborn scream in the neighboring room all night that night and I was angry. I was red with anger. Not because I lost my baby but because that baby needed to be held and the new mom was 'too tired' to do it. So the baby went to the nursery. I would have killed to hold that baby, to tell it that everything was okay and that it was loved.
I remember walking across the hallway to the nurses station that is nestled in the center of the birthing rooms, nursery and patient rooms. I stared at the door of the delivery room you were born in. It's not with the others, it's by itself in a corner. It's for those moms who don't get to show the world their baby. Then the nurse asked me if she could help me, it broke my stare and I remember looking at her somberly.
I lost track of the conversation with her, maybe because of all the medications I was on. But I heard a baby cry, so I looked past her and saw a deliciously fat baby waiting for placement in a foster home. I wanted to hold her. Love her too. But instead I had to be brought back to reality. The nurse, so nicely and carefully brought me back to the reality that you had died and asked if I needed help. I did need her help...I needed her help filling out your stillbirth paperwork. I wasn't sure what boxes to check.
That night in the hospital was nothing but sobering. Filling out papers saying you were dead, figuring out how to arrange a funeral for a baby, and knowing you were just down the hall...in a morgue. I can't remember much after the paperwork, they medicated me some more and tucked me in for the night.
The next morning, I woke and I showered. I stood in the tiny bathroom looking at my belly. Trying to comprehend how yesterday I had a baby and today I didn't. And I got mad. I wanted to go home. I wanted out, NOW! I wanted to go home and explain to my kids that they weren't going to have a sister in the capacity that we had talked about. I washed my hands as I looked at my own tear stained face in the mirror, I remember losing focus again on the water rushing down the drain and realizing that water held a lifetime of dreams.
The doctor came to check on me, I remember your dad doing most of the talking because I had little to say to anyone. The nurses brought us things and told us things and I didn't hear them. Their words fell upon deaf ears. I remember wanting to go home. He said I could go, he'd have the discharge papers done and in about half hour I could go home. I nodded ever so slightly as he walked out the door.
What was that? All the rushing we heard as soon as he walked out. There was a ruckus being raised and I wasn't amused. I sat on the side of the stupid bed, in the stupid hospital, waiting for a stupid doctor to let me go get in my damn car and go home to a babyless home. Your dad went out to see what was taking so long. Oh great, I couldn't leave this nightmare behind because someone had a baby. I was mad, I just needed out.
Finally, after what felt like years, the nurse brought some papers that your dad took. And next thing I knew I was walking down soulless hallways through an endless maze to the doors of the hospital carrying all that would ever be considered your belongings.
I walked into the house, to your brothers room and climbed into the bed you and I had shared for the last 6 weeks while I was on bed rest. And I went to sleep. I didn't eat. Didn't talk. Just slept.
I had to plan your funeral the next day. Flowers came, cards came, your service came and went. I remember very little. Just the black hole of a mind that I was swimming in. I came and went but didn't have much to say. I took my medicine and breathed.
You couldn't ask for much of me. That was all I could manage, breathing. People checked in, I faked the smiles, and I was nothing but a shell of a mom to your brother and sister. If it hadn't been for Holly, your sister wouldn't have had much of a birthday. I just couldn't muster it. My birthday was spent teetering on the edge of madness and with family. Your grandparents took us to dinner. I tried hard to enjoy it but without you there just wasn't much to enjoy.
The days and weeks passed, I spoke of you often, cried even more, and just breathed. I had given up, I wasn't a person, I was the remnants of a once very lively person...I was letting it all go.
I threw myself into volunteering in your sister's kindergarten class. I did PTA stuff. I was spending as much time at school as they were. It kept me from being with the demons in my own head. Kept me from succumbing to the emptiness.
And mere weeks after your slight moment on earth, I got two lines on the pregnancy test. I was having a baby.
Honestly, I thought it would fix me but all that positive test did was create a sheer panic. I wanted to be excited, I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be elated about it. But I couldn't get over the idea that, whoever was on their way, would die too. How do you get excited about something that you've already decided you most certainly won't get to keep?
It was a gauntlet of emotion. If it was to be felt, I felt it. I was scared. Scared if having to do it again. Scared of losing another child, which I knew that my heart could not handle. It would be the final nail in the coffin. Which as I typed that, I giggled because it such a morbid thing to type in a post such as thing. But it is nothing but the truth.
Life was zooming around me as I stood still. Weeks passed with the pregnancy, my belly grew, I saw you weekly on that screen, heard your tiny heart beating stronger and stronger. But I was still hanging on to the what ifs. It made it hard to be over the moon.
And then the day came that they asked if I wanted to know what the baby was. Of course I wanted to know. But then those words escaped the technicians mouth, it's a girl. I felt a rush of many things in that moment. Was I going to get to keep her? Was this really happening? I need more pink! We need things for her! I want pink!
Over the course of the pregnancy I went through ups and downs, emotionally and physically. And as we neared the end of wait, I was beginning to feel the excitement. Her room was ready and she was named after you, Harlyn.
She got here, I heard the tiny cry from the massive squishy baby and my heart stopped, tears bled down my face. But it was mixed emotions. It was more than I understood. I was sobbing because my perseverance had paid off but also because I was here, I was having another baby because you weren't here. It took me down a quick flash of memory lane. I cried because you were gone and because she was here.
There is more truth than can be written when I say that Harlyn saved my life. She pulled me from the abyss I was losing myself in, she made me able to move forward, she made me realize that I could miss you and be happy. It wasn't until I saw her that I felt happy again. She was massive, and beautiful, and she looked just like you. It was stunning to see her face and see your resemblance.
I spent 10 months so afraid I would forget you that I forgot to live. And in the moment of seeing your sister's face and seeing you there I knew that she would never let me forget a moment. You and her did something amazing on June 6, 2011. Without being here, you made me realize that I was going to be okay. That even without you in my arms I was gonna live.
I spent her first months sleeping only when others were awake. I stared at her all night every night because it was so surreal to finally, after 18 months of being pregnant, had a baby to call mine. A baby that was here. There was fear mixed with that. I was scared she would be gone when I woke up.
She is two and a half. And it's been two and a half years of crazy, insane fun. I miss you everyday. But Harlyn showed me that I'm allowed to be happy even though you're gone. Doesn't change that I love you, or that I miss you. Or that I teeter into the abyss sometimes when things get overwhelming. That pain is a welcome visitor at times because it helps remind me that I need to never take anything for granted. And it reminds me that you were here and weren't just a figment of my imagination.
Three and a half years ago my life was flipped inside out and I was tossed into an abyss that only I could climb out of. Three and a half years later, I stand before you, still breathing, still living, my heart still beating. I am living a dream.