It occurs to me that I haven't posted very many photos of Psalm here, so I am to rectify that today...
I would take your pain away and hurt for you if I could, but I fear that doing so would mean taking away some of the love you feel as well, because those are the two sides of the same coin. Still, I hate like hell that there is anyone else out there who knows exactly how I feel.
There's been another baby born to the support group, a wee tiny boy who lived a quarter of an hour. And oh, my God, the pain. The remembered pain. I ache for his mother because now the pain isn't an abstract thing, it's an exact thing. I know how it feels to wake up with empty arms and empty womb and oh, my friends, I cannot explain it to you and I hope like hell all you can do is imagine it yourselves.
God's cruelty is refining. (Stephen King, Desperation)
There are dark thoughts that will not leave my mind. No thoughts of harm or wishing I wasn't here. Nothing that serious. Worries about my girl. When she opened her mouth at me and grimaced at first I thought she was in pain, but I rationalized it as her trying to cry. But what if I'm wrong? What if those were frantic gasps for breath, with underdeveloped lungs too small to pull in air?
Just the same, she opened her eyes and looked at me and I saw there the wise look that all newborns have. But someone else interpreted her look as fright. What if she was right? What if Psalm was frightened by the lights, by the noise, by her own failing body?
How much of what we tell ourselves about death is true, and how much of it is lies to make ourselves feel better? We presume there is little to no pain, that it is somehow a serene slipping away, but there's no way to know that's true. And that troubles me, because I made the best decision I could for her but there's always the chance that my choices were the wrong ones.
We mamas of lost babies have been called strong. After a while, this becomes a burden. We're not strong. We're just doing what we have to, just putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward because while your heart is beating and you are breathing, there is no other choice.
I have no strength left in me. None. I have given all I have to other people, and I swear to God if I hear one more line about men being stoic and holding up things for their families I am going to scream.
We had Psalm's memorial service this past Tuesday, on my due date. Dry-eyed, I arranged to have a photo blown up to display at the service, and I packed her green blanket and the little baby book from Sufficient Grace ministries to act as a guest book and I took them and I laid them out on the table. I thought the service would be the time to cry; I told the girls this was the time we are given to be sad. But I'm the one who had to stand up and be strong for those who were crying. I'm the one who has shed her tears hiding in the bathroom more often than not so I don't bring others down. I'm the one who went outside after seeing her death certificate and her ashes so I would bother no one with my grief. I'm the one who kept quiet about how fucking much it hurt to have a friend's child born on my due date because I didn't want to upset my husband with the knowledge it was happening or the friend with the knowledge of how painful it was. I hurt physically and emotionally and I am sucking up both sources of pain because that's just what the fuck I do.
Just fucking once, I wish someone would speak of my daughter as though she was a normal baby. As though her presence was the presence of a real person, not the embodiment of...something.
I posted to Facebook the video the midwife gave us of her moving around and making faces and kicking me in the face. When it happened, it was a happy moment because here I am cut open on a table and my newborn is kicking me in the face. Yep, she's my kid for sure. Grouchy as fuck and kicking. There was nothing beautiful or precious or anything about that. It was the closest thing to a moment of normalcy we got that day. But I guess it's not realistic to ask other people to look past the circumstances and see the moment for the moment. I realize Psalm isn't really real to most people, and that most folks have a problem with seeing any newborn as a 100% human human, but I just want some tiny little slice of normal to cling to because otherwise this is just an ongoing nightmare.