But she's dead. I have a dead baby. This is what runs through my head almost every waking second of every day. My friends talk to me and I think "my baby is dead". At the grocery store, shopping for celery. Still have a dead baby. It is the record player that runs constantly.
I have this weird impulse now to know who else has a dead baby. An impulse I would never act on but think about regularly. I want to lean out the car window as we drive by a lady pushing a stroller and shout "did you have another baby who died?". Twisted, I know. But I mean - other people have them. There are other people just like me walking around, seeming completely normal and average on the outside, who have held their dead children in their arms.
Where I am today is peeking through the haze of confusion that this really horrible, sad, terrible thing happened to my little family. My baby died, it's true. She died way past the point when we should have worried about that. I was 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant. The end stages of a very smooth ride. Car seat installed, hospital bag packed, doctor's office joking that she could come any day so be ready! And then she was gone.
I don't cry every day, at least not the obvious, open sobs that found me in those first weeks (and still find me, just not as frequently). But quiet, private tears show up daily, quiet enough that I can breathe through them, wipe them away, and keep going.
For the first time since Lucia died, I can think about what I'm having for dinner or what I'll do tomorrow. I can think more than 30 seconds ahead and make decisions. I'm not paralysed by the grief anymore. It's still quite present but it's not suffocating me anymore. I'm coming to accept that my grief is a life partner who has come to live with me forever. I don't want it but it's not leaving anytime soon so we're getting used to each other.
Thankfully, I've stopped blaming myself, for the most part. Stopped the relentless, haunting idea that I could have saved her "if only I had....". That was the pits. It helped to know that blame is just part of the process and completely normal. Expected, even. "Don't fight it", our therapist said. It's horrible to think about but it needs to come so let it come and then let it go.
I'm working towards acceptance, processing that this thing happened and it's not fair and it majorly sucks but it's not changing, which means I need to figure out how to march on. I've had a hard time getting here, I've felt like accepting it means somehow saying I'm glad it happened, which I most certainly am not. Or maybe acceptance has felt like letting go, which I am also most certainly not ready to do. But no, acceptance just means finding a way to shoulder the burden and keep going.
I find the most peace being alone, getting time to myself to think and feel in my own space. I'm blessed to be surrounded by the most well-intentioned people who are amazingly supportive. I have to remind myself that this grief is theirs too. It doesn't look like mine, it doesn't feel like mine (who's can feel worse than mine??) but it still exists for them and their desire to support me and be with me is them processing grief too. One day, I'll be able to share more with them, be more of an interactive companion. But for now, about what I can handle most of the time in the company of others is sitting and staring, not wanting to talk about it but not able to be distracted from it. Or wanting to be asked about it but not knowing what I want someone to ask. Grief makes you a terrible conversationalist.
One day, I was talking to a wise friend, sharing about a bad day I had. And she said something that stuck with me, which was "That must have been awful. But you lived, you did it." And she was right. What I've learned in the last 3 weeks and 3 days is that I've survived a lot of moments that seemed terrifying to me. I lived. It was hard but I did it. I cried but I did it. I ached and wanted to throw up. But I did it. And that's about as much comfort as I can give myself right now as I look ahead to all the things that I still dread. They might be terrible but I can do them. I can wake up every day. I can figure out how to be a good mom to the child I am blessed to already have. I can find a way to be a wife and partner to the world's awesomest husband, who does nothing but love me to pieces. I can move forward, walk on, "sit in the shit" as another good friend said to me just yesterday, and I will be okay.