The other day, while playing and laughing with my daughter, Cupcake stopped and looked at me. “Mama sooooo happy!” she exclaimed as she clapped her hands together.
And I am. I really am. I’m happy.
It does not seem so long ago when I wondered if I would ever be happy, truly undeniably happy, again. I hurt so much. Every bone ached with the longing for another child. Every beat of my heart was the thump of grief for the one I’d lost.
But finally, I’m not a slave to my pain. I am joyful and I am free. Don’t get me wrong…I have not forgotten. I think of our Teddy Graham often. I pray for each of you still in the trenches every day. I’ve been damaged and scarred on this journey. And I am never far from the fear of losing this baby, too. But this pregnancy, and my Skittle, have brought me immense healing.
No longer does the weight of a future and dream that seemed so impossible sit upon my shoulders all day long. No longer does Cupcake feel the need to pat my hand as I weep and say “Mama sad.” She can declare my happiness instead. I can declare my happiness.
I am happy.
This mama is happy.
At long last.
I had thought that passing my due date on Dec 6 would be a turning point in the grieving process and my journey of healing. That it would be like a flipped switch and, suddenly, things would be easier and I wouldn’t miss Teddy Graham so much. I had heard of that happening and it made sense to me. Everything before the due date is so fresh and only leading up to the day when a baby should have arrived. Everything thereafter is an unknown, something you hardly had a chance to dream or plan for.
But this has not been so for me. December 6th was not a turning point, a flipped switch, a pressed button, nothing like that. If anything, I feel as if I have taken three steps back in my healing. Many days since my due date, I have cried. Cried for the Baby Who Almost Was. By now, no matter how overdue the doctor would have let me go, Teddy surely would have been in my arms. Our lives would be so different here in the Dash home. Christmas would have been so different. Because I have been there before, at this exact same time of year, it is easy for me to imagine. I know what we are missing. And I still seem to be grieving it.
Which has made me wonder, at what point do I move on? I have always said that, while I will and have moved forward, I will not ever move on, leaving behind the child I lost, because that child is still my child, even if he is not here. In response, I have had people tell me that’s unfair to the daughter I have and to any children that I go on to birth in the future. Just three weeks after my loss, I had people (including friends who have miscarried themselves) telling me I needed to get on with my life. I wonder what they would say now, all these months later? Have I crossed a line into pathetic-ness, the woman who never recovers from the loss of a tiny baby that she hardly knew?
But I have also had friends who have lost many babies tell me that grief does have an end, but mourning does not. And years later, even with their rainbow babies tucked into their cribs, they still mourn for the babies gone before. That resonates with me. I think that’s the point I’m at now. I am in the final stage of grief: acceptance. I know Teddy Graham is gone. I know he’s not coming back. I am not disabled by this loss anymore. I can function again. I can laugh, I can mother, I can plan. But I still feel the need to do things to remember TG. I want him to still be a part of this family and for Cupcake to know she has a sibling she never got to meet.
Is that wrong? I don’t know. A little part of me feels ashamed about it. Maybe if I’d had a stillborn, and not a miscarried, child my grief would be more socially acceptable. But then again, maybe not. I do know that the grief I have suffered would be tenfold if I had carried Teddy into the second or third trimester before losing him, but knowing that does not diminish my loss. It does not mean I have not suffered.
So where do I go from here? I guess I continue doing what I have all along: putting one foot in front of the other and searching for ways to bring peace and comfort into our home. Maybe a new year will bring more healing. Maybe my sister’s baby shower or the birth of Cupcake’s and Teddy Graham’s cousin. Maybe the anniversary of my loss in April. Maybe it won’t get easier until I have another baby in my belly or, more likely, my arms. But I do assume that, at some point, I will be able to breathe again. I hope that there will come a time when I can stop cringing my way through life, braced for another painful reminder of my loss. But I don’t expect that the pain will ever leave me completely. It’s now part of the fabric of who I am. I’m okay with that. I just hope other people in my life are, too.
Tomorrow, we fly to London. And by “we,” I mean my Honey, our nearly-2-year-old Cupcake, my mom, and I. We have a two-bedroom flat rented for a little over a week and we will do some touristy things and some wholly-British things and enjoy the city that I love so much. In fact, I have always said that London feels more like home to me than Home does. I have never felt so completely myself anywhere else in the whole world. So I guess, in essence, I will be going home tomorrow.
In all honesty, this is going to be a bit of a bittersweet holiday. I have been planning this adventure for the last eighteen months and, at the start of the year when we first started TTC baby #2, I had hoped I would be growing a new life by now. And when we conceived Teddy Graham, I realized I would reach a holy-moly 32 weeks halfway through our time there. And when I lost him, I said to myself, “Well, there’s still plenty of time. I can still get pregnant before we go!”
But none of that has come to pass and, instead, I will be going with an empty womb and a heavy heart.
However, this holiday really couldn’t have come at a better time. I need this. When I was nineteen, I ran off to London for three weeks, reeling from a broken heart. I was young, had never traveled abroad, and I went alone, knowing no one there. But if offered healing. I found strength in my independence and, I’m embarrassed to confess, I found a new boy (a sexy foreigner from Poland) to briefly obsess over. I fall quickly for charming men, what can I say? I’m not proud. I have traveled to London several times since then, and now, ten years later, I will be going with another sort of broken heart, in need of an entirely different kind of healing. I know that my trip will not cure my infertility and will not squelch my grief, but perhaps it will soften the edges and give me what I need to go on. If nothing else, it will just feel good to sit alone on a bench in Green Park, rain or shine, with a cup of coffee while I reflect and remember and pray. And by the time I return, I will be done with my period and Clomid, two weeks into my cycle, and just a few more away from my appointment with an RE. What a nice way to pass the time, eh?
So all of this to say that I will be off-the-grid for the next ten to twelve days. I won’t have ready access to a computer, so I don’t expect that I’ll be posting or commenting during my time away. I’ll surely have a lot of catch-up to do when I get back. For those of you who are in your 2WW, I hope there will be plenty of good news when I log in here in a couple weeks! And for those of you who are at another stage of waiting or grief or limbo, please know that I wait with you and hold each of you in my heart. Every one of you, whoever you are and whatever point you are at in your journey, have a place in my prayers every night.
Be well, friends, until I return. XO