We don’t really celebrate Easter like a lot of our family and friends. I’m sure I participated in Easter egg hunts as a kid, but none are memorable enough to come to mind. In my early 20s I enjoyed poking fun at Christians in my social circle by reminding them that their resurrection holiday is actually a Pagan day for fertility. Now though, it’s just another day. The only other thing that it could be for me is another pinprick of grief; if I linger too long looking at the pastel baby shoes and the tiny, sparkly Easter dresses it only reminds me of the what I’ve lost. If I see Easter baskets stuffed to the brim with goodies, I’m reminded of memories I’ll never have. And instead of watching my almost-two-year-old play with others her own age while discussing with other blissful moms the hardships of motherhood, I stood in the grocery store looking at flowers, wondering which one would be best to bring to her grave.
I am still terribly broken, but I’ve come a long way.
Until very recently, I had a really difficult time around small children – my sister-in-law’s children, specifically. Her oldest was born ten days before mine, and there will never be a day that I look at him and don’t see her. Just being near him, or any kid younger, was almost always guaranteed to send me into a panic attack. I knew it, and I knew this made everyone around me uncomfortable so I avoided as many of these social situations as I could. Looking at it now, I think my struggle was part grief and part resentment. It’s difficult for a baby loss mother to not find fault within herself, regardless of what everyone always says, and to see another’s healthy babies only highlights her own failures. It’s a knife to the gut. Every. Single. Time.
And therein lies another journey that I found myself taking: infertility. When we lost Eevee, the 6 months my OB told us to wait before trying again was awful. I consoled myself against everything with the idea that I’d be pregnant again by Christmas, and while nothing would ever truly be okay again, I’d be healing and managing. That didn’t happen. But every big day and event I went through the same mental cycle, each time a little less hopeful, a little more angry and depressed. And here I am now, about a year and a half after that 6 month mark. No pregnancy, and realistically, very little chance of one.
Sometimes I think that I’m terribly weak, to be forcing myself into giving up on my rainbow. Other women have struggled with infertility for much longer, suffered multiple miscarriages, and countless other emotionally devastating turns that make my paltry year and a half look tame. But then I have to remind myself that I have a right to be gentle with myself, and that I can’t compare my current chapter to anyone else’s. Surviving my daughter’s death emptied my very soul. My reserves are a little low.
It’s taken me almost two years, and despite all the times I tried to force myself to be okay, to take that step, the time that it actually happened was actually kind of easy. I held a baby, and even got him to go to sleep when no one else could. The last baby I held had stopped breathing.