It's been three months today since I drove to my clinic for my 20 week ultrasound. Three months since I was SO excited to find out if it was a boy or girl. Three months since I walked blindly into the most heartbreaking situation of my life. I wasn't sure how I wanted to bring Lexie's story to this blog - I envisioned a big, meaningful post. Something I wrote and edited and finally posted. I have plans to scan in her ultrasound photos and include them in our yearly blog book. And I will do that. But today, at this three month mark, I think I will just start writing. Writing about where I am today.
Today I find myself reflective and teary and as usual... sad. However, I am not where I was three months ago. I am not where I was two months ago. The raw grief has passed and for that I am thankful. I am not sobbing regularly in the shower and I am not crying myself to sleep each night. These moments come further apart now. What has replaced them is as a I describe - a constant ache, a constant sadness. Lexie - both the imagined healthy version of her and the realistic sick version of her - are never but a few moments from my thought process. I miss my girl. I miss feeling her move. I miss feeling excited for her. I never got to really cherish the fact that we were having another little girl because along with the news of a little girl came the news of her severe heart defect. She would have fit so perfectly into our family. A trio of girls - what a blessing and what a loss. People have said to me "be glad this didn't happen with your first baby." Yes, it is true. I am glad this wasn't my first baby because of course that would have come with it's own set of sadness and heartache. But guess what... when it is your third baby, it comes with it's own set of unique sadness too. I know exactly what I lost. I know because I spend my days with two very real examples of what I lost. I have two little girls and I lost a little girl. It's very real and very raw and because I live and love these two little girls every single day, I face what I lost every single day.
It's been a weird summer. A sad summer. I have spent a large portion of this summer in a fog and on edge. I am ready to say goodbye to this summer and I am scared to say goodbye to this summer. What comes next is fall. The season in which she was supposed to be here. Fall is my favorite season and I was so excited to have a fall baby - and in October no less, my favorite month of the year. I would love to skip the whole season and re-appear mid-winter. But, as I have so quickly discovered, it just doesn't work that way. Life motors on ... it doesn't care what happened. The sun keeps coming up, the rain keeps falling, the seasons change... it literally never stops. So whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not, you attempt to move forward with it. I see pregnant women everywhere - pregnant women with huge bellies, as mine would have been by now. Every time, it is like a punch to the gut. Every time, I want to stop them and ask them when they are due, how many weeks they are. But I already know the answer. I know they are around 33 weeks - I know they are due in the fall - probably late September or early October. They are right where I would have been. When you are pregnant, time passes slowly and you count down the days and weeks. When your pregnancy is abruptly taken from you, time moves painfully fast. It moves faster than you are ready for it to. You mentally live through the remainder of your pregnancy but the cruel part is, there is no baby at the end. All of these babies will be born - my friends who were due after me are now due before me. They will finish their pregnancies. They will meet their babies. They will have sleep-deprived nights and wander around in a daze... and all with their baby snuggled up next to them. All of these things will happen for them and not for me. It isn't fair. And yet I feel guilty saying that because I have so much to be grateful for. I mean, so much. I tell myself all of the time "Get off of your pity pot! You have your health! You have an amazing husband! You have two beautiful daughters! You have great friends! An amazing family! You're only 32! You can have more babies! Get off your damn pity pot!." And it's all true. And sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn't. Because no matter what you have, sometimes the situation you are in just sucks. It sucks that we had to choose life or death for our own child. It is an unnatural, horrific choice to make. Three months ago, I would have obviously said life. I choose life. Who wouldn't want life for their own child? But what if that life actually isn't what you want for your child? In our case, choosing life also meant choosing pain and suffering. Ultimately, had we chosen life... It wouldn't have been any kind of a life I was okay putting my child through. Death was actually the least painful option for our little one. And the reality of that is mind-blowing. I wish that choice on no one. I will spend the rest of my life in constant amazement that that choice fell in our laps. People have all kinds of opinions all over the place about life and death and what they would do in any given situation. Until you are sitting in that chair facing what we faced, they don't know. I thought I knew. I would have bet money I knew. I didn't. They say a mother's love has no limits. And it really doesn't... a mother will even choose to let her child go in an effort to save them. She will face the pain of that choice head on in an effort to save her own child from pain and sickness. Lexie's life was spent with me. She began in me and she ended in me. She only knew my voice and the beating of my heart. There is great beauty in that journey, in that life too. I will cherish our five months together always.
I recently finished a memoir called Signs of Life. It is written by a woman who, at 24, lost her husband when she was five months pregnant with their son. The tagline is "Finding the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer." I bought it because I thought it would be helpful to read about a situation that was "worse than mine." How did she get through it, I thought. I read it cover to cover and even broke out my highlighter for the first time since high school. It is a raw and truthful book and what I discovered is that no matter what the loss is - a baby, a mother, a spouse, a sibling, a divorce - there are common feelings associated with all loss. Each story is of course different and uniquely heartbreaking in it's own right and yet when she wrote about her feelings of loss, I could relate to so much of it. She writes about how it felt like she had a train ticket to a life she had planned and suddenly her ticket got changed. That is exactly how I feel. I had a ticket to three kids, three girls and my train got derailed. Just like her, I want to go to the counter and say "Hey! Wait a minute. You gave me the wrong ticket. I am not going to this place. I am going to a different place. A better place." And then I envision the lady at the ticket counter giving me a sad little smile and shaking her head no.
This loss has simultaneously been a loss of innocence for me. I feel like I was like a big puppy dog roaming through life until this happened. Running feely, tail wagging, ears blown back by the wind. Loving life - enjoying life. And then BAM. A big truck came and ran me over. I suppose everyone has this moment in their life - the moment when they realize exactly how hard and difficult life can be. Some face it earlier than me, some face it later. Maybe some are lucky enough to never face it. I no longer have to wonder what a broken heart feels like. I know exactly what it feels like. My heart is broken and though it is healing, it won't ever fit together like it did before. It's kind of ironic that I am so heart broken. My daughter only ever had half of a heart and I kind of feel like half of my heart is gone now. We are forever connected by our damaged hearts and my life will forever be divided - before Lexie , during Lexie, and after Lexie. And each phase has it's own story.
So that is where I am today. Three months post-trauma. This is how Lexie's story will begin on this blog. It won't be just one post. It will be many posts, many thoughts along the way. I have so many thoughts - they wander in and wander out all day everyday - so maybe I will start putting some of them on here. Writing has always been an outlet for me so it seems appropriate. Bear with me. :)