Among the bereaved parents I know, we often say that the anticipation can be worse than the actual event. Thinking about an upcoming baby shower or family gathering can bring on feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, or dread. We mull over the scenes in our head, playing out confrontations, tears, or awkward silences. Often, we can get so worked up and then the moment passes without the level of emotions that were expected. And it gets easier over time to expect certain responses and manage them. Continue reading
Robert Frost said “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.”
It has been over twenty months since Nelle was born and still, still there moments when I cry because I miss her so much. I miss her because she was my baby, my child, and she isn’t here. She. Isn’t. Here. Even typing those words, I have tears streaming down my face and my throat hurt with the pain that comes from gasping between breaths. Continue reading
After having my first tattoo done, I almost immediately began to plan the next alteration of my skin. There was something remarkably satisfying about the process: first the pain, then the memory – burned into flesh as a permanent tribute to my children. The dates on my back were for them. The next one would be for me. Continue reading
Yesterday, someone I know asked for advice on Facebook. Her friend, 4.5 months pregnant, was told that her son would not likely make it to term due to a heart defect. She wanted to help, but didn’t know how. A friend brought it to my attention, thinking I could offer some words, knowing that kind of heartbreak. Continue reading
Yesterday was the first day that really felt like Fall. A cooler morning with a Fall beverage from Starbucks made for a preview of sweaters and pumpkins to come. Fall is my favorite season: the change to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, the back-to-school excitement, and the snugness of bundling up as temperatures dip are always welcomed. There is a reason I named my daughter “Autumn” because Fall holds such a fondness for me.
Yet, as of two years ago, it also quietly ushers in another time: the day our daughter Nelle was born still. On this day in 2015, I snapped a photo in the morning of Quentin next to the Keurig machine. And later that afternoon I was being admitted to the hospital and given medication to induce labor. When will I ever forget that moment when the doctor stoically told me “I don’t see a heartbeat” and my own wailing? Probably never. It would be an unforgiving 26 hours later before she was born on the 4th, weighing only a few ounces. September – specifically Labor Day weekend – is a reminder of those days.
Theo had just started kindergarten at the time, and now this year, Quentin has just started kindergarten. The beginning of that transition to a full day of academic school is rough. I seem to remember it being the same for Theo, but when I looked back at my writing for the time, I found nothing. I was so wrapped up in grief that I wrote little about anything else for weeks.
I was talking with a friend about September and the month is hard. She lost her full-term son on September 16th last year. I lost Nelle, and also have Theo’s birthday. Celebrating the birthdays of my living children is hard, because it is a reminder of my children that aren’t there and whose birthdays we won’t celebrate. I am inundated with baby pictures and they remind me of photos I will not have. Yesterday I had a playlist on at random and the first song was “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and I thought “Exactly.”
My baby Autumn woke up at 6:00 this morning to be fed, and I started sobbing. I held in my gasping breaths as much as I could so that I wouldn’t wake Ger. I rushed through the feeding and put the baby back in her crib so that I could be alone with my warm tears.
I still love Fall. I still love all of the changes it brings before the harshness of winter. I try to separate the loss of my baby girl with the months to come. In a way, her birthday is a transition: over Labor Day, that bridge between summer and fall. And that’s what she was – the end of one life for us, and the start of another.