Thursday, August 14, 2014

Little One

Let me start this post by saying I realize that I am not the first woman to be pregnant.  I’m sure it seems like a pretty normal thing to most people.  I mean, my Facebook newsfeed pops up with pregnancy announcements from various people on a daily basis.  It’s the age group I guess.   The general order goes as such: engagement announcements, then wedding pictures, honeymoon, etc., and then finally, (or in our case, very quickly) sonogram photos follow.  But regardless of how simple and “normal” it may seem to the world, I can tell you as the woman carrying this soon-to-be person, it is far from a normal experience.  Every day feels like a momentous occasion.  Every time I realize my belly is bigger, every time I think I feel her moving – it is a huge event for me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who’s going to sit here and romanticize this whole pregnancy thing.  Honestly, I spent years (as most girls do) trying really hard NOT to get pregnant.  The beginning of pregnancy felt more like a parasite than a human as I tried to keep food down and barely got out of bed.  The “side effects” and “symptoms” of pregnancy range from gross to just downright weird.  (Trust me, you have no idea.)  And I sincerely have to question the women who just “loveeeeee” being pregnant (my mom included).  I did, however, never forget how much of a privilege it is to be pregnant.  I have always known that I wanted to be a mother someday, and the thought of not getting that chance is a type of heartbreak I cannot even fathom.  So even on my sickest days, I made sure to take a moment to remember how truly lucky I am. 

Now that I’m in the midst of the second trimester and feel almost human again, I think I’m finally starting to think of this little alien inside of me as a real person.  Knowing she’s a girl (which I knew in my heart from day one, but has since been confirmed through medical technology), picking out a name, and watching Danny fall more and more in love with the idea of her has certainly made it more real.  I admit I was afraid in the beginning.  I confess I still am.  It’s my medical knowledge, it’s my professional and personal knowledge of all the bad things that happen to people, it’s my firsthand experience of loss, and bottom line, my overwhelming anxiety that contribute to this fear.  What if. . . [insert a thousand possible tragic scenarios here]. 

What I’ve sort of had to teach myself in these almost five months is this baby is a person.  She’s not a medical condition – she’s a gift that’s been given to me.  Yes, a million things could go wrong – with the rest of the pregnancy, with the rest of her life, for that matter – but worrying about all those possibilities just takes away from the happiness we have right now. 

Through everything that has happened in my life, I have fought to hold onto that sparkle of hope that we are all born with.  That belief that all good things will win in the end, even if that belief has been tested time and time again.  And I have to admit it hasn’t been easy, but somehow knowing that it’s my job to help this little person hold onto that belief as well has given me a newfound strength that I did not know I had. 

I want our little girl to believe in magic, in the goodness of people, and the world for as long as she possibly can.  I know that inevitably things will happen to shake that belief.  And I will do my best to prepare her for those times.  Thinking about it now, I feel for my own sweet mother who tried her best to shield me from the bad parts of the world.  How hard it must have been to watch the difficult, unfair things overshadow the good in my life for some time. 

I like to think that I have more to offer this child now than I would have had I never faced difficulty.  I always admired my mother’s strength, and it in turn, strengthened me.  I will be honest with my daughter.  Bad things happen.  And those things often don’t make sense.  But that doesn’t mean we shy away from the things that make us happy.  Life is not meant to be lived in fear of the unknown.  All we can do is make the most of what we’re given, the time we’re given, the happiness we have today. And I'll make sure she knows she will always have a safe place to come home to when the world seems unkind.  

Having Danny by my side gives me such reassurance and happiness.  The ONE thing I NEVER worry about is what kind of father he will be.  This little one and I are both incredibly lucky.

I know exactly what thought will cross my mind when I hold her for the first time.  I will think to myself how brand-new she is.  How untouched by the world.  How her heart is unbroken and so open to all the beautiful things this life has to offer.  And how I will do my best to protect it.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Two Years Ago


At this time, two years ago today, I was curled up with my face buried in your shirt.  I had already lost you several hours ago, but little did I know that hearing your last heart beat {See this post} would not serve to be the only traumatic part of that day. I had thought about losing you over and over again, imagining (morbidly) what it would feel like.  I've learned that the brain does that for survival. . . it tries to prepare and figure out if you can make it through the event you keep thinking about.  What would it feel like? Would I survive?

But I never thought about the other stuff that goes along with death.  Having to call your mom and tell her the news, calling your best friend in the world and telling him. . .  waiting . . . simultaneously wishing for more time alone with you and someone to show up to fill the emptiness. Dealing with the police officers who to this day, I wish I had taken their names because they were so insensitive and awful to me.  Being asked by the funeral director to pick out clothes for you to be buried in.  Hiding in the bathroom while the funeral home carried your body out in my favorite Pottery Barn sheets.  These are things no one can ever prepare you for.  These are the things that made your death seem casual, messy, and like something else that just happens in life.  I hated every second of it.  I'm not sure what I wanted to happen.  I knew angels were not going to come down and carry you away in front of my eyes, but I just wanted something more.  I wanted the rest of the world to feel the gravity of the loss, too.  I wanted the policemen to be kind, and respectful and recognize all we had gone through -- maybe I wanted some sort of credit for dealing with all of this alone, for the most part.  Didn't they know who we had lost?? But it never came.  The sun came up against my wishes.  Papers were signed, an outfit was selected, and you were gone.  Suddenly, our tiny apartment felt huge.

There was a sense of finality in that last moment; an emptiness that I'm not sure I will ever be able to fully put into words; a sense of defeat.  We had lost.  You were gone.  And in those few seconds of silence where your heart beat was supposed to be, the world got a little darker, and the future seemed blurry.

Two years later, I can still close my eyes and feel every second of that day.  I hate today because I almost want to just skip past it.  I hate commemorating it.  It's not your birthday, or another special day -- it's a bad memory, a life-changing event that causes flashbacks for me, and causes pain in the hearts of the people who love you most.

Sitting in that apartment two years ago, the concept of going on with my own life seemed out of the question.  I never thought my heart would open up to someone else, or that, two years later, I'd be the happiest I've ever been. Remember last year when I told you I was going back to school after taking that time off? Well, I have three months left! I hope I make you proud.  There are so many things I wish I could tell you, but deep down, I know you already know.  I know you are responsible for so many of the happy things in my life, and the lives of the people closest to you.  I can't thank you enough for sending me Danny.  Our hearts are the same.  I could not have picked a better person for my husband, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be loved by him every day.

What I want to make clear is, I will never ever be without you.  Being with you, and losing you, shaped who I am as a person to my very core.  You are with me in so many little ways, every single day.

You're in my words, in the way I approach things, in every ounce of confidence I have.  I believe in myself a little more because you always believed in me.  Every time I laugh at a joke about poop, you're with me. Every time I giggle with your sister, or tease your mom or listen to Almost 6' 6", you're with me.  Every time I try to correct my grammar, or edit my own paper, you're with me.  Every time I put mayo and mustard on a sandwich, you're with me.  Every time I look at Danny and smile, you're with me.  I know it might sound strange to some, but you taught me to love fiercely.  And inevitably you taught me that life is too short, to wait around for the "right time" to do things. You are in everything that makes me, me.  You are what I like most about myself. You brought so much magic to this world in such a short amount of time.  I feel lucky to have shared so many memories with you, and so privileged that you chose me to share your life and inner most self with.

I will never stop missing your presence in this world. I will never forget all that you taught me.  As the years go by, as they invariably will, the light you brought to my life will never fade.  The world and the people you touched will always shine a little brighter for having known you.

I know you are safe.  That you are happy.  That everything makes sense to you now. I can feel it.

Two years, or two thousand,

I carry your heart.