Sunday, October 15, 2017

pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

very recently, i went to a movie with my husband -- we can do that sort of thing now, because L is now in kindergarten, and we can enjoy the early bird shows.  We were the only people in the theatre, and we were pretty early, so my husband went to use the bathroom, leaving me alone with the ads for concessions and insurance and lawn care and mobile phones and whatever it is they run forever before you actually even get to the trailers.
i was excited to be feeling like a grown-up, relaxing in an air-conditioned movie theatre, on a date with my husband, when an image came on the massive screen in front of me: a woman looking at a pregnancy test, with a slowly spreading smile on her face, and then a shot of her and her partner, cuddling happily with the test in hand.  i sat in shock for a second, and then completely, unexpectedly, and utterly lost it.
it literally felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my chest.  i gasped for breath, clutching the back of the oversized plushy seat, heaving with sobs.  while the lizard brain part of me fell to complete pieces, the rational bits of me were terrified: what if there's someone in the projection booth and they think i'm having a heart attack? what if my husband comes back right now and finds me like this? and what, for the love of all that is holy, is happening to me?
i curled into a fetal ball into the corner of the seat and tried to breathe through the giant, primal sobs. i scrabbled around in my bag for a tissue, and tried to keep from drowning in my own tears and snot.  i had no idea what that ad had been selling, and didn't even really understand what was happening to me in the moment, but i certainly knew why it was happening: it was the concentrated grief of all those many, many pregnancy tests...and how even the positive ones amounted to a negative when it came to actually having a child.  it was the memory of the last, unexpected one that hurt the most.
"that's all i had for some of you," i whispered, "just blue lines on a stick. i wish you were more. oh, i wish you had all been more!"  and then -- like a switch had been flipped -- the sobs just...stopped.  it was as if the acknowledgement of my lost babies' presence in my life was the truth that needed to be spoken to acknowledge the grief and send it back to rest.
i stabbed the tissue furiously at my eyes, blew my nose, and did box breathing while the lights went down and the trailers started.  miraculously, my husband did not re-appear until a few minutes later, and the darkness effectively hid my swollen eyes. we proceeded to enjoy a movie like a couple of happy teens cutting class. now, you'd think this abrupt emotional shifting would've ruined things, but instead i found myself simply relieved to know that They Still Matter A Lot. 

so why do i tell you this very personal and awkward story?  because you can see the tickers in the right-hand column (scroll down if you want to) saying it's been eight and a half years (!) since we first honored a would-be day of a child that never came -- and the sorrow still packs a hard punch.  it's another October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (click the links if you want more information on what this is), or "Tummymuffin Remembrance Day," as we call it in our home.  with time, each one is no easier than the last...they're just different.  i wrote in my last post about growing within the measures of joy and sorrow, and as my story shows, said growth will likely never be done.  i will likely always carry some pain of hopes crushed, just as i live every day the joy of a dream fulfilled beyond measure in so much more than even the life of my one living son.

friends, there are a lot of other parents tonight who will be lighting candles, remembering the ones they never met and choosing to courageously keep loving them anyway.  so please break the silence: offer a word of encouragement.  say "i love you and i'm remembering with you." give a hug.  light your own candle. ask for stories. say their baby or baby's name out loud.  just be there. 
and thanks to all of you who have been there, some of you for each and every one of these October 15ths over the last many years, who have extended so many acts of love that have defined our family in ways we could not imagine.  my candles will be lit tonight with so much gratefulness because of these, because of you.

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