A year ago today, I peed on a stick.
It doesn’t exactly seem like a day you would commemorate. Or post about on Facebook. Or write a blog about.
It was just supposed to be a fun day to look back on.
I knew I’d remember how happy and at peace I was. How my sister cried when I told her. How happy (and shocked) my mom was. How everything just felt so right.
But on that day, I certainly didn’t think I would commemorate December 3 as an anniversary.
You see, it was just supposed to be the start. A very good day that should have been trumped by LOTS of good days and significant anniversaries to come.
First, there should have been the weekly ritual of counting week to week, month to month. Of comparing my baby to a vast assortment of fruits and vegetables, and taking belly shots to share with friends and family. Then the celebration of passing through each trimester.
There was supposed to be the first day of feeling the baby move. The first kick Ryan would feel. THe first ultrasound. Finding out the sex. Having a gender-reveal party with blue or pink filled cupcakes.
Then there should have been D-day. A day that I would remember for the rest of my life. The day I would always recount with friends and family. The first time seeing our baby. The first snuggle. The first kiss.
There should have been the diaper change, first bath, first smile, the first time eating solid foods, the first tooth, the first time sitting, the first time sleeping through the night. The first word, the first stand, the first step. The first Christmas, Easter and Birthday.
When I peed on that stick, I expected a lifetime of firsts.
Instead, I have one first to celebrate. The first day I knew Olivia Joy Lewis had entered our lives for a time — and our hearts forever.
So today, I think of her. And I celebrate the only first we have to celebrate.
I also mourn today. Of course, I’m mourning that her life was so short.
But today, I mostly mourn me.
I am mourning who I have become in this last year, and who I still am becoming. I mourn the loss of my innocence and naivity. I mourn for the brokenness that is always in my spirit.
I have read the words of a grieving father where he explains that everything he experiences is filtered through with the loss of his daughter. He feels he cannot separate anything from his loss. I resonate with that.
“Arbonne is going great.” (Olivia is dead.)
“Maddy is wonderful.” (I hate that I can’t give her a sibling.)
“What a beautiful day.” (I feel barren and broken.)
“I just love the holidays.” (My womb is empty. My arms are empty. And my heart feels bitter.)
“I’m so excited for this next year and what it could bring.” (I am dreading this next year. Will I have another loss to grieve?
Everything I say is true. It’s just that each sentiment that accompanies it is equally true.
I wish I could just take this whole year back.
Some people have told me that they find me deeper, stronger, more caring since our loss. A few have told me I’m weaker, less committed, less spiritual. A part of me still cares very deeply about how others view me. But I mostly care about who I see on the inside.
I feel like I’ve become someone you have to walk on eggshells around. Super sensitive to anything pregnancy/baby related. Any wrong word could make me weather an emotional storm for days or weeks, or months. Some words I’m still trying to get over.
The world feels unsafe and full of grief-triggers. Everywhere I go, I feel vulnerable to reminders. They pop up at unexpected places, and I often find myself pretending to be fine when inside there is a war raging in my heart. “Oh,” I hear myself say. “Your baby is just so cute!” All the while, I just want to blurt out “I was supposed to have a baby, too. She would have been this age. You have no idea how lucky you are that your daughter is alive, and healthy and breathing. Do you know what a miracle your child is? Do you fully appreciate what you hold in your arms?”
I feel bitter inside. I hear of pregnancies, and my first thought is “Why not me, God?” When pregnancy-loss friends complain about pregnancies, it’s still hard to wonder why they are complaining about being pregnant. Of course, I get that they shouldn’t HAVE to do it again. But what about me? I so WANT to do it again, but God’s not letting me. Why did I also have a loss . . . then have to wait. Then have another loss. And now I’m back to waiting?
Bitter. Could there be a worse adjective to describe yourself as? Sad — not really a fun adjective, but at least acceptable. Jealous — none of us admit it, but we all go there. Depressed — even that isn’t taboo anymore.
But bitter? About innocent babies and pregnant women? Could you GET less Christian?
Today, Maddy was whining about everything, and I was just about to the end of my rope. (OH, and did I mention I’m much less patient with her nowadays?)
I was so tired of hearing the whining, and I tried every ploy in the book to get it to stop. It was just annoying. I just wanted to yell at her, “Would you JUST get over it already???”
Sometimes I want to yell at myself the same thing. “Would you JUST get over Olivia already? Just get OVER your miscarriage? Just get OVER your difficulty getting pregnant. Would you JUST get over yourself? Everyone’s tired of hearing of it. You’ve cried the same tears, written the same blogs, and spent the same sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed. Would you just freaking get over it???”
But I can’t.
Trust me. I hate it. I HATE how I feel inside.
But no matter how many times I see the counselor, no matter how many books I read, no matter how many prayers I pray, I have to learn to live with this new me.
The one who cries a lot, the one that feels angry, jealous and bitter. The one who never feels safe anymore. The one who has a hard time believing in good things. The one who struggles to laugh. The one who needs less time with people, and more time by herself. The one who sometimes hurts others by what she says. The one who is so easily hurt by others. The one who struggles to fully trust God. The one that shys away from others, even from those who are well-meaning. The one who often feels like a crappy friend, wife and mom.
I wish I felt more like celebrating today.