Two and a half years and one day.
914 days. Being back there at day one doesn’t come as readily anymore. I’m not thrust there unwillingly as often as I used to be.
Most days, it seems like it’s been a decade.
But some days, it seems like yesterday. I can see the doctor staring at the ultrasound screen with a perplexed expression. Moving the wand over my stomach back and forth, up and down, a look of panic rising in her eyes. Leaving the room to get another doctor, who also goes through those same motions, shaking her head, “I don’t see anything.”
That’s how I learned that my son had died. “I don’t see anything.”
Like he just disappeared into thin air.
Like there was nothing left of him.
Like he’d never been there in the first place.
Like the entire diagnosis of “twin pregnancy” had simply been a mistake that they only realized at the 37 week mark.
I have fought tooth and nail to make sure that my son’s memory hasn’t disappeared into thin air. To be sure that there’s something left of him, that his legacy is a meaningful one. To be sure people know that he did exist. That I am a mother to twins: One in my hands, one in my heart.
I’m so tired of fighting. My nails are dirty and bloody from clawing my way through the turmoil. My mind is dizzy from denying my grief, from fixating on grief, from not knowing grief’s proper place. My mind is frayed from the post traumatic stress of losing my baby at term and subsequently carrying another child to term. My heart hurts from holding my dead child, from not feeling like a good enough mother to any of my children, from losing people I thought would never leave my side much less kick me when I’m down, from feeling so isolated at times in my type of loss.
And yet, a corner has been turned, and in the shadows, a gleam of light shines brightly.
I may be tired, but I’m not empty. I don’t feel so much like I have anything to prove to anybody. I know my son was real, that he was real even when his heart stopped, that his surviving sister will always be a twin, that I will always miss my first child. I know that, sadly, yet comfortingly, I am not the only one to lose a twin at term. I know that I am not a freak in losing my son to something that claims the lives of one in five thousand. I know that I did the best I could with my subsequent pregnancy, that it was in my best interest to hide that pregnancy for my own very personal reasons, that most people don’t understand because they simply can’t understand, and I wouldn’t wish loss or post-traumatic stress on anyone, so I must forgive them their ignorance.
This war? It isn’t mine. It never was. It’s so much bigger than me.
I will continue to love my first son. I will express that love unashamedly in ways others may deem as odd. A blog. A balloon release. A candle. A memory shelf. A kind gesture to another loss mama. These are the things I do to quietly parent him.
But I’m not fighting any more. I used to literally feel like I was fighting for my very life, just merely trying to survive. There’s no me versus the world anymore. That anger has simmered some. I am surveying the damage, the fallout, from the grief and trauma that has struck my life, taking stock of the casualties, the friendships that did not survive the blows to my life. Silence has spoken volumes to me these past two and a half years.
But I’m not angry about that anymore. It’s okay. I don’t want people to be anything other than who they really are. And I mean that sincerely, at last.
I cry harder than before.laugh harder than before.
feel the sadness of the world more than before.
grasp onto moments of happiness more than before.
stand up for myself more than before.
set healthier boundaries than before.
embrace spontaneity and challenges more than before.
love more genuinely than before.
breathe each moment in more than before.
feel more than before.
I am more than before.
This gleam of light I see shines in many forms.
It shines in the form of so many epiphanies that have come my way.
It shines in the form of such incredible new friendships I’ve embraced, both in and out of the loss community.It shines in the form of a marriage that has been to hell and back and has survived and strengthened through the course of weathering the storms.
It shines in the form of my beautiful daughter who will always carry part of her brother with her.
It shines in the form of my miracle rainbow baby boy who carries his big brother’s name as his middle name.
It shines in the form of this love I carry for my first son, a love that no one could ever snuff out.
It shines in the form of signs from above, such as this incredible 22 degree halo rainbow ring around the sun during our balloon release yesterday.
This gleam of light I see shines in the form of this new me that I am still getting to know.
Wounded, ripped wide open, yet fierce, passionate, and more courageous than ever before.