I do not know the exact day that I lost them. I think of the day that we found out that there was no heartbeat as “the day that we lost her but that is not true. I do not know the exact day that their hearts stopped beating.
September 3rd, 2015. The day that I found out that Nelle’s heart was no longer beating, at 21 weeks, 1 day of pregnancy. Labor was 26 hours, so she was born on September 4th. Labor Day weekend. The irony does not escape me. I thought of September 2nd as “the last day that I was happy” but that’s not true either. I have had happy days since then. The last day Before I Knew what Grief Was.
Late last night I was so overcome with grief that I was nauseous. I choked on my own air. I was shaking. I took the hottest of hot baths to try to calm myself. I pulled out the journal that my therapist gave me and looked at the first entry:
16 September 2015. It has been 9 days and 19 minutes since I gave birth to Nelle.
Now it has been 364 days. Tomorrow will be 365. I also looked at one of the last entries in the journal:
18 February 2016 (four days after Iris was born). I am paralyzed by fear. I feel like I am under a constant attach of anxiety. As I look to the future, I wonder. And I’m scared.
I did not stop writing on that day, but I started writing more openly, sharing my grief with others.
September 3rd and 4th will pass unnoticed by most people, as I gasp and sob, but still have to get through the day. On these days last year, I was in the hospital. There was nothing except the hospital and delivery. Now, going forward, I have to function on these days. On my daughter’s birthday, there is no celebration and it is an ordinary day.
I have been watching it slowly approach and cannot predict the reaction that may strike me further as I start to read my “On this Day” content in the upcoming weeks and months. I will see my own writing. I will see my own pain and grieving again. I do not know if it will stifle me too much and I will avoid it, or if I will look back at those moments, thinking “those are the only memories I have. My own writing, and the way people surrounded me.”
I cannot bear to give up what I have written about my girls. On my phone, I have their obituaries, typed into the Notes section, a mere day or two after they were born. I had to send the obituaries to a funeral home. How do you honor someone that you have never met? The notes are still there, surrounded by all of the mundane things I wrote both before and after. They sit side by side. There is nothing in between.