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.