Sunday, Sarah and I went and spent an afternoon alone. It was funny because, even though we see each other regularly, it's often "Mommy-Aunt Sarah" time and not "Michele-Sarah" time. While it may sound strange to Peter, it's not the same. We still chat and hang out, but we're both focused on the baby in our arms. And that changes things. So, Daddy got some Daddy-time, and Mommy and Aunt Sarah put on their Michele and Sarah faces, and left.
Now, of course, our trip was focused on getting things for the kids, but we also played the radio loud and sang along (Bon Jovi anyone???) and then grabbed iced coffee and just laid back for a half hour at Starbucks. We got a great (second) highchair and some beautiful outfits at a consignment store, then off to Target, where the kids got their first exersaucer (and, because of how they play with it, we may be getting a second one...). Aunt Sarah spoils them and, although I tell her she need not buy them things, she doesnt always listen (and the kids love her more for it... although I think they love her lots because she gets down in the floor and plays with them!)
We had just left the house and were talking, and it dawned on me that, although the pain is just below the surface, and although I know it will always hurt, and I'll always wonder "what if...", that I've come to a place of peace about our miscarriages and Nick, Sophie, and Alex's deaths. I cant hear Bobby laugh or watch Maya clasp her hands in front of her when she smiles and gets giddy, and want for something else. To do so, to wish our losses had never happened... It's to wish them away... To wish more than just Bobby and Maya away... I love them all so much; I want them all so much. The pain is a small price to pay to have held them all, to have known them all, to have loved them and love them still.
It was as if a huge weight of grief lifted off my shoulders in those first five minutes from home. I still miss them. My arms ache to hold them all. My heart hurts. But, in that pain is peace. A peace that I was their mother- that I still am. That they lived, albeit shorter than we wanted, inside of me and in their father's arms. That, without them, there wouldnt be Bobby and Maya.
I watch them sleep and I see their siblings in their faces... Hear them in their laughs... Feel them in their hugs... And it's good. It's okay. It is a balm for my bleeding heart.
We passed Alexander's due date on the 3rd. We've never really put much stock in EDDs, but it was crazy to think that, had he been born a year ago, there would be no Bobby and Maya. It will be eye opening as well, I think, to pass Nicholas and Sophia's in July, and realize that our cuddlebug wouldnt have entered our lives, in addition to Bobby and Maya. I have no doubt that we would have had more children... But it wouldnt have been them... And my life, although I wouldnt know it, would be emptier.
It's strange... This new place on the journey. We've been walking towards it for a while. And how can you not? Living brings you farther from loss, but living with children after a life walked with empty arms brings you a day closer to milestone after milestone. It shows you just how much you really, truly lost when your babies died; it shows you just how much you gained because of it.
It's easier, I'm sure, because I know that my children live on in the next world, and that they arent "lost" to me. It's easier because Bobby and Maya are here, safe and sound. It's easier because I am married to a man who is my "lean to", who shares my brokenness and my wholeness. It's easier because I still feel my babies all around and dont feel completely separated from them.
But it's hard too... To look at Bobby and Maya and wonder... To know that life wouldnt be the same...
When we got pregnant 9 years ago, we were still, very much, children ourselves. Fairly early into our marriage, financially insecure... We would have made it work, but we would have struggled. Little P wouldnt have had the life we wanted for him, but he would have been so loved. Two and a half years ago, when we got pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia, we were more emotionally ready. We knew the pain of miscarriage and infertility. But we were still part of the ignorant pregnant. We walked around in the bliss of early pregnancy, not really considering loss as part of the equation. We werent as financially stable as we wanted to be and knew that, once I stopped working, money would be tight and it would be hard to swing things. But we would have worked hard to give them a good life, and they would have been loved. Our miscarriage with Little D was hard to swallow... It was hope in pain, light in darkness. Even though we were only pregnant such a short time, dreams were shattered all over again. But pregnancy with Alexander brought with it a renewed hope. And the belief that "lightening couldnt strike twice". We were still broken from Nick and Sophie's deaths, and we were terribly afraid, to the point that we didnt tell very many people that we were pregnant, for fear of telling them we werent. Not telling didnt exactly save us because lightening can strike twice in one place. Losing Alexander was the pinnacle of pain. Nothing- not even a previous infant death- provides an inkling of what it feels like to lose another child, another pregnancy. At the end, we were able to find peace in knowing his birth was imminent, and we were able to enjoy the time we had with him. But there was really no way to prepare for the pain that we knew would come. We still werent where we wanted to be financially, but we had moved into our home just before getting pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia, and we were prepared to do whatever it took to give Alexander a stable home... He would be loved... And that was most important. Like D, sweet little Z brought us such joy for the short time she was with us. She gave us permission to hope again... to believe again... to find the strength to breathe again. When we found out that she wasnt with us, the pain stung like a child who believed in Santa only to find out, by mistake, that it was their parents all along.
When we got pregnant with Bobby and Maya, we had already decided that we wouldnt try again if they passed away. We felt like we couldnt control what happened and didnt want more children to suffer (if they did suffer) from being born so early that every breath was a struggle and painful. We opted for the cerclage with hope that it would work. We did the bed rest and every other thing we were told. And seeing Bobby and Maya, breathing and pink and big for their gestational age... It was such a hopeful time. The impact of their prematurity weighed in after, but at that moment... They were perfect. Our NICU rollercoaster wasnt that bad, and I think that also played into feeling like they were going to be okay. We were in a position where we could be at the hospital, where we werent living paycheck to paycheck, so that fear was alleviated. We dont have a lot of family nearby, but we have friends who are family, and we were very supported. Bringing them home, and having my mom and grandma here, and Peter's parents and my dad here, and our friends... It was such a scary time, but such a happy time.
The last eight months have been insane. Floods of grief, showers of delight. Pain mingled with joy. Aching arms filled. Aching hearts cuddled. Baby kisses to wipe away orphaned mother/father tears. And now, finally, a sense of peace. A feeling that this- the here and now- is the why. That, although I'll never know why it is the "why", that I have to embrace it. For Bobby and Maya. For Peter. For Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander. For our miscarried babies.