When I was early in pregnancy with Paisley, a nurse at the doctor’s office was reviewing my history. We went over the number of pregnancies and living children, which is always kind of a tricky conversation. The information the nurse needed was whether or not I’ve had any full-term deliveries–and I had–but I didn’t have any living children. I explained our situation to her. She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” I immediately responded with, “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not, honey,” she said.
I realized I’d been saying it was okay a lot at the time, as if I was trying to comfort everyone else around me. The thought of a baby dying is an uncomfortable thought no matter the circumstances, and I made it my burden to comfort others faced with thoughts of Benjamin’s death. To protect them–even perfect strangers. Even the barista at the coffee stand when I returned to work with my empty belly.
“How’s the baby?”
“He didn’t make it.”
“Oh no. Oh, I’m so sorry.”
I still do it. It’s an automatic reaction: It’s okay. I’m okay. It had to happen, we couldn’t have stopped it, we can’t undo it. I have a good handle on it. We’re in a good place about it.
Eventually it becomes more about comforting my own heart. It’s okay because these two amazing children wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t died. I’m okay because we have an awesome support system of amazing people who saw us through it–and we do.
But each September, I try to make a conscious effort to let it hurt. I don’t hold back. I talk about him almost too much and whisper his name more often when I’m alone. I relive those weeks between his diagnosis and birth. How scared we were, for him and ourselves. Scared for the future. Scared of learning that this was a genetic abnormality that could happen again (which turned out to be the case). Scared that we would never have another child (thankfully not the case). SO scared that we would never feel happiness without guilt again (also not the case). I have never felt an emotion more visceral and consuming than the loss of his brand new life, and the weight of that emotion has a permanent home in my heart.
Whenever I speak with other loss moms, or any grieving person really, my first piece of advice is to let it hurt. You cannot properly grieve without giving way to the pain, not only at first, but throughout the process. It not only strengthens you–it also puts the rest of your life in perspective.
September belongs to Benjamin. It always will. Thank you for missing him with me–always, but especially in September.
Happy third birthday to the little boy who changed everything.