I’ve stopped wondering as much what life would be like with you here and I feel bad for that. I don’t feel as connected to you as I used to. A new parallel life was born the day you were birthed without breath in your lungs and sound on your lips. A life without you and a life wondering about you, imagining about you. Two different worlds meant to be one yet separated by an impassible chasm.

We knew you were gone yet it was still joyous to birth you. Hope still danced in that delivery room down at the end of a long hall. Maybe the doctors and the ultrasound machines had all been wrong. Maybe you would defy the logic and the technology that claimed you simply “gone”. Maybe that doctor that was convinced we didn’t need to see you and hold you would see the error of his ways. The pain of labor and contractions was so much worse than I imagined it ever would be. Mercifully it was short as labors go. We were so happy to lay our eyes on you. But in the instant you were birthed you were there but yet you were not there. The climax of hope and horror crescendo-ed and the only hearts beating in that room were of the doctor, nurse, mother, father, and nana kind. No beating baby heart. No welcoming frightened relieved piercing baby squeal. There were smiles and anticipatory glances, but they were short-lived. The upturned mouths quickly turned downward. The flickers of maybe-a-miracle-is-coming were replaced with a million tears streaming over our cheeks. A miracle had come, it was just not the miracle we had been dreaming of. But it was still you. And you will always be a miracle. Life is a miracle no matter how short. We held you. We sang to you. Pictures were taken. Kisses given. We wondered. We will always wonder. We gave you back after an hour. I can’t believe I actually let go of you. We left with no baby, just a pink heart shaped box in our arms.

Living two lives has made me tired to the marrow of my bones. At times I’ve given more energy to grieving you than living my present life. I’ve slowly begun to know myself again. Slowly accepting your death as a reality in our lives, your absence as a presence that will never be absent. The old ways of connecting with you don’t work anymore. No one ever talks about you now, my goodness it’s been 7 years so we should be able to be a family fully healed, as though you could be erased as simply as chalk from a chalkboard, as pencil marks on paper. Life never became less beautiful, we never became less grateful, we never stopped living, we’ve just had to learn to live with the new member of our family that wasn’t you, rather the space taken up by the lack of you joined us. A haunting hollowness of where you were meant to live- to be- became our new family member in the here and now. A family with an invisible member. A bedroom with no bunk beds. An empty seat at the table. A car with one less passenger. Family photographs with someone missing.

I didn’t know how to do this then, I don’t know how to do this now. It feels wrong to bring you up, wrong to still be grieving, wrong to not be grieving as much, wrong to say obligatory apologies for something I didn’t make happen, for someone I loved, carried, birthed, held, buried, and am learning to live without. Apologies expected when observed grief doesn’t line up with how to grieve on society’s timeline. Everyone wants us to tell another story, a story with a happy ending, a story of beating the odds.

We are living out our stories and we miss you. We miss who you were meant to be in our lives, the memories that were to be made, the siblings meant to giggle with. But a fractured life is still life. A beautiful life gained a member in you. You didn’t take away from us, you added to the beauty. We just want to know you, we want the chance to love you more fully, to see your sweet face, to know your dreams and fears.

They say you still live on the other side, that we will get to know you one day, and that is supposed to give me hope somehow. It does but it doesn’t, I believe yet I don’t. The dissonance haunts me. Your absence haunts me even more. I love you sweet girl, I always will. On the good days, on the bad days, during the funny times, during the days depression almost robs me of my very breath, during the giggles with your siblings, during holidays with extended family, during always and forever.

{Hope Wood © 2014}

>>>For anyone struggling with grief over the death of their unborn baby, please see this resource at STILLBIRTHDAY. The movie Return To Zero is also a great resource for helping family members and friends understand the reality of your pain<<<