It feels like a trend

I’ve been having a string of bad days. It’s not every day, and it’s not all day, but when it hits, it’s hard. I think maybe the cooling weather and approaching holidays are getting to me.

I went for a massage this afternoon, which was mostly great. When the massage therapist asked what was going on, I mentioned that lifting my 9-month old out of his crib is destroying my back. Once the massage started, he asked if Ian is my first. I said no without any explaining, and he asked if it’s easier this time around. Heh. If you really want to get into it, it’s easier in some ways but harder in others, but I spared him that uncomfortable conversation. I said that our first baby, our daughter, passed away, so in a way, it’s easier. He expressed his condolences, and that was that. I was fine. I even smiled after I answered, because I got to tell someone about my little girl.

A little bit later, I was thinking about how I like massages to hurt. I feel like they’re not all that productive otherwise. I thought about my last relaxation massage, and how it was nice and relaxing, but not my style. It was at a spa in Maine. Dave and I went away for our first anniversary. I was pregnant with Jilly.

My mood changed. I started thinking about how we tried having sex (sorry, parents and siblings), but it was uncomfortable. Something felt wrong. I was worried for a minute, but then I brushed it off as a normal pregnancy thing. I asked some internet friends about it a few days later, and one answer that sticks out in my mind is that one woman experienced it, but not at 21 weeks or however far along I was.

In hindsight: I should have called. Why didn’t I call? I know that there’s a very could chance that I would have been told that it’s normal for things to feel different during pregnancy. But there’s also a chance that I could have been told to come in just to be checked, and they could have discovered that my cervix was a worthless piece of crap and fixed things. I wouldn’t have this blog, this hole in my heart, or these horrible thoughts that I’m going to lose Ian, too.

And then hit me. If I had called, I might not have Ian.

I started thinking that maybe things are the way they should be, and I wasn’t supposed to call. The short time we had with Jillian was all that we were allotted, and things are the way they’re supposed to be. Then the feeling that I’d just chosen one child over another ripped my heart in half.

This whole thing has played out in my head a thousand times since Ian was born. Every time, I realize I can’t win. There’s no good outcome in this dilemma. Ideally, I’d have both kids, and I would be whole, but that’s not how it happened. I know I’m not choosing one kid over another, but while my thoughts are spiraling out of control, it feels like I am.

I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do about it. I think it’s just something I have to get used to. If it weren’t for Ian, I think I’d want to sleep until the spring. It’s amazes me that almost two years later, I still get so overwhelmed that I can’t stand it.

Rough day

I met some friends today. I drove out of town a different way today, and as I was sitting at a traffic light near my old office, I started thinking about how I’m always afraid I’ll run into someone I know when I walk past there. I was wondering why, because I love my old coworkers, even though I’ve been terrible about staying in touch (I have cards for several of them sitting in our living room. I’ve had them forever, but something is stopping me from sending them).

As I waited for the light to change, I realized it’s not because I don’t want to see anyone. It’s because work was my old life. The last time I worked, I was pregnant with Jillian. My heart was unbroken. Things seemed like they couldn’t be better. And then we were blindsided.

I started crying, and I kept crying almost the entire drive – over an hour. It dawned on me about halfway there that today was the 18th, and I remembered that my anatomy scan with Jillian was on the 19th. That caused even more tears. Two years ago from tomorrow, I fell in love the with most wonderful little girl. Before that, she was “the baby.” On the 19th, she was my daughter.

When Ian and I got to our destination, I took him out of his car seat, held him, and cried some more. He didn’t have any clue what was going on (he was more interested in the giant balloons at a nearby car dealer), but just holding him made a world of difference.

I felt okay for the rest of the day, but I’ve been crying on and off since we got home. I can’t figure out what’s causing me to be so emotional today. I kind of wonder if it’s because her birthday is quickly approaching, but I’m not sure, just because I haven’t really focused on it all that much (except when I notice things like the orange juice I bought expires on December 5, and some yogurt expires on December 9 – I mean, come on, universe).

I hope tomorrow is a better day. I just decided as I was typing that I’m going to finish the sweater I started when I was pregnant with her. It was for her to wear home from the hospital. I haven’t done anything with it, other than put it in a plastic bag and put it out of sight, but I need to finish it. I don’t know why, but I hope it will make me feel good. I just miss her so much. I miss everything we never got to do, and I miss all the dreams I had for her.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

If you’re not already aware, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I don’t need a month to be more aware of it, obviously, but the news stories, blog posts, Facebook status, etc. about it definitely make me think even more of our own loss and of all the families who have been touched by similar tragedies. Sometimes it feels like everyone I know is in the same club that we’re in, but sometimes, even at the same times, it feels so lonely.

I am constantly thinking about all the people I know who have experienced such a loss. A childhood babysitter, my own mother, grandmothers, college friends, family friends, and childhood friends. My heart aches when I think of the childhood friend who I used to have sleepovers with, and how nobody would have guessed that decades later, those two little girls would share such a nightmarish bond. I close my eyes and wish I could go back in time and somehow protect us. I don’t know how that would happen. I wouldn’t take my own loss away if it meant I never had Jillian, so I don’t think there’s any protection.

A woman on this message board I’ve been active on for a few years gave birth to her full term, still born daughter this week. It has obviously stirred up a lot of emotions and I’ve caught myself lost in thought multiple times, thinking about what she may be feeling, and remembering how I felt in the minutes, hours, and days after we lost Jillian. Someone posted a comment about not being able to imagine what her next several weeks would be like, and all I could think was that it’s more like the rest of her life. The pain doesn’t go away. It gets lighter, more bearable, but it’s still there.

As healed as I feel, thanks to Ian, I’m still broken. Almost two years later, there’s still a box full of cards and letters in my dining room that I can’t touch. There are so many letters that I want to answer, but I can’t bring myself to pull them out of the box, much less reread them, now that I’m out of the fog of total shock, and write a response that won’t leave a page of tear-smudged ink and illegible handwriting because my hands are shaking from the grief. Every day, I sit on the floor to play with Ian, and I feel an emptiness, like someone is missing. He doesn’t know that two of his toys were actually hers. Every time he picks them up and shoves them into his mouth, I think of how Jillian never got to do that.

I already know that the first day of school in 2015 is going to be a hard day, because I won’t be walking Jillian to her first day of kindergarten. It doesn’t end. I don’t want to wallow, but it’s not really a choice. Dave and I live with it every day, and even though it hurts, that’s how our first child is still in our lives. Obviously we try to focus on the happy moments, but they’re tinged with pain.

I hope others will take some time to think of all the fathers who have suffered such losses. There’s always so much focus on the mothers, but the fathers suffer, too.