Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Today was such a beautiful day.
And I was happy.
It feels weird to type that on a Wednesday. For the past 45 weeks every Wednesday I have to psych myself up. I have to peel my eyes away from the clock from 7:30am - 7:36am, the times Reece was born and died. Every Wednesday I have to give myself a pep talk. A reminder that I've gotten through all of the other Wednesdays since he died, and I'll get through this one too.
We are still adjusting to Daylight Savings Time in my household, so the mornings have been particularly painful. Neither Sadira nor I are morning people. I've felt distracted the past couple days. My brain is still sleep fogged when I wake up, and my bed feels like a warm nest.
I KNEW today was Wednesday when I woke up, but I wasn't acutely aware of it like I usually am.
We went through the motions of the morning, with the help of coffee. As we both adjusted to the day, it started to take a turn for the awesome. When we stepped outside, the sun was shining and the weather was markedly warmer. I instantly felt awake and alive. We both breathed in the air, which had a hint of spring to it. By the time we arrived at school this morning the sunroof was open and the radio was up high.
We both loudly sang along.
Not all Wednesdays have been this awesome. Just last week was a rough one. And there will be many more rough ones in the future, especially as April 30th comes closer and closer.
In the early days after Reece's death I would feel so guilty when I would feel any shred of happiness. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't happy very often, but every once in awhile I'd have a moment where, in the words of my friend and fellow babyloss mom, Marisa, "laughing didn't feel forced." It's strange to think that, isn't it? That there is a time where you have to fake "happy," or even just "okay" because your true emotions are so hopeless and sad that you don't want to subject others to that sadness?
But every once in awhile I wouldn't have to do that. I would genuinely smile or laugh, and then minutes later a wave of guilt would pass over. Mommy guilt still extends to babyloss moms too.
These days I've allowed myself guilt-free happy moments. I've allowed myself to laugh with friends without worrying if I came across as too well adjusted. I'm still struggling, y'all. That truth is real. But I'm learning how to temper my sadness and manage my happiness.
Yes, this babyloss thing is EXHAUSTING.
But today was beautiful and I was happy.
About a year ago I went for my six month dental visit. I was about twelve weeks pregnant and happened to mention it to my dental hygienist, Selena, before she started my cleaning. A weird side effect of pregnancy is that your gums bleed when you brush, and I wanted to give her a heads up.
We chatted about the normal pregnancy stuff. How I was feeling. Whether I thought it was a boy or a girl. What we were hoping for. All the nomal chit chat. When my dentist came in to check everything out, he said with a smile, "well, let's try to get you back in here one more before the baby comes for your next six month appointment, okay?"
I made my appointment for the end of August.
About six months ago I went in for that August appointment. I was at the lowest of low points. My son had died. My relationship was over because of it. I was in between homes and living out of boxes. Looking back I probably should've just cancelled the appointment, but I guess I wanted to try to maintain some sense of normalcy for myself. Who knows for sure.
I was relieved when I got there and my hygienist, Selena, wasn't. She was on vacation with her family and I had a substitute hygienist cleaning my teeth who didn't know me. Didn't know anything about me. Didn't ask any personal questions.
The appointment was fairly routine, and the cleaning was simple. As always, my dentist came in to check everything out after my cleaning.
I was lying all the way back, reclined in the dental chair when he came in.
"So, it looks like your teeth are still in great shape," he said. I nodded, as he started poking around and inspecting my freshly cleaned teeth. "Just remember not to brush to hard when you brush...you're gumline is showing some evidence of rough brushing, but nothing to worry about at this point..." he continued.
"I think you're good for another six months," he smiled at me, upside down from my vantage point.
"So how's the baby? You must've just recently had the baby, right?"
I was still lying down in the chair, still has gauze in my mouth and wasn't prepared. I knew he meant well. He was just checking in, personally connecting with patients. Something I normally admire about a healthcare provider.
But all I could muster up was a very tiny voice that said, "our baby died in April." I couldn't explain anymore. I stared up at the tiles of the ceiling, trying to will myself not to cry, but it was too late. The tears rolled down the sides of my face and onto the floor.
He apologized. Fumbled through something, I don't know what. I couldn't pay attention. I'm sure he felt horrible, but I couldn't even look at him. The substitute hygienist quickly excused herself. It just kept running through my head, our baby died in April. Our baby died in April. Our baby died in April.
I don't remember leaving the office, but I do remember sitting in the driver's seat of my car and weeping. I was supposed to be in the very last weeks of my pregnancy. I was supposed to be "nesting" and preparing the "any day now" arrival of my son.
But instead I was explaining to my dentist that my son was dead.
Last week, on Wednesday of course, I had my latest appointment. When I arrived, I saw Selena behind the desk. She motioned to me that she would just be a few minutes and I mouthed back for her to take her time.
I mentally prepared myself. I reminded myself that I hadn't seen Selena in a year. It was likely that she didn't know what happened to Reece. It was very likely that she was going to ask.
"Nasrene? You can come on back." The sound of her voice interrupted my thoughts.
I walked back to the exam room, and just like she always does, she reminded me, "there's a hook on the back of the door, if you'd like to hang your coat and purse."
I was hanging my coat up when it happened. I was facing one side of the room, hanging up my coat, and she was facing the other side, looking through her notes. Our backs were to one another.
"The last time I saw you was a year ago and you were pregnant. I know you've been here since, but I didn't get to see you. Soooo....what did we have, a boy or a girl?"
I slowly turned and sat down in the chair, "I had a boy." I felt calm when I said it.
Her back was still to me, scanning through her notes, "wonderful! So how is he? What's his name?"
There's always that moment. That brief moment before you clue someone in on what happened. That moment where you feel horrible that you are about to give them bad news. It's weird, because it's YOUR bad news, so you KNOW that no one feels worse about it than you do, but you still badly for delivering the bad news just the same. You know they're going to feel badly for asking once you tell them. But they need to ask. And you need to tell.
I've worked SO HARD on learning how to gently deliver this news over the past *almost* year.
"Our son was born prematurely in April, at almost 23 weeks gestation, and he passed away. He was beautiful, though. His name was Reece." I said it calmly and evenly.
She turned to look at me with a horrified look in her eyes, "I am so so sorry...I...I didn't know...I just.."
"It's okay," I told her with a small smile. "Well, it's not okay that it happened, but it's okay that you asked." I borrowed that line from a fellow babyloss mom, Meghan. It's a good one that exactly conveys how I feel. (Thank you, Meghan.)
"Oh, okay, because I'm just so sorry. I just...I just don't know what to say," she stumbled.
"That's exactly it. It's such an awful thing, there are days that I often don't know what to say, so I know. I know exactly how it feels to be speechless. But I'm doing a little better these days, and I don't ever mind talking about him. He was my son and I like to talk about him, even though I don't have much to go on."
With the ice broken, she asked me some questions, and I answered as honestly as I could. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it. I felt good to be able to talk about Reece. She thanked me for being understanding with her, and for being willing to talk openly.
My appointment continued as usual.
I didn't cry. I would've been okay if I did, but I didn't, this time.
My, how things had changed in six months.
I left and didn't cry in the car on the way home. I had a little conversation with Reece in my head and thanked him for not only helping me to be a better mom, but a more compassionate person.
Life has been forever changed in the 45 Wednesdays since April 30th. But there are still beautiful days, and happy moments.