** Quick TAC update – I’m officially scheduled for a consult with TAC team Dr. Atlas & Dr. Im of Baltimore, MD in mid-February! Totally unrelated to today’s post but an important first step towards my healing – so excited to do a full post on that consult and all the other steps of my TAC journey! **
I’m trying my best to be as honest and vulnerable in this blog as I can be, but I realize that some of my posts come on “good” days when the grief doesn’t darken every word I write. That’s not a bad thing by any means and I’m glad to share my clarity on those good days, but I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea here – I am way down deep in the abyss of grief, my heart is broken in ways I never before imagined were possible, and I think of my son every second of every minute of every hour of every. single. day. I’m not magically “okay” only 17 days after losing a child. I find hope and joy in every day and I continue about my business, but I am hurting and that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not okay. So today I want to share how my grief is manifesting as fear, and how I’m doing my best to confront and manage that fear.
Sometime in the midst of my labor with Omie, I asked Jason through choking sobs “What if we can’t have babies?” He assured me that we would be able to have as many babies as we want, and we’ve since had amazing conversations about our commitment to complete our family in whichever way we can – whether that’s through the “traditional” pregnancy route, or through surrogacy or fostering or adoption, or whatever we have to do. In my most rational moments, I know that we will have kids someday, somehow. But grief doesn’t allow me tons of rational moments so most days I fear, in the depths of my soul, that we will never be able to have the one thing we want the most – children.
And now that I’ve lost the person I loved most in the world, I’m worried about losing my soulmate. It’s not a totally irrational fear, as I’m sure his mother will tell you. Jason’s experience as a black, Hispanic man in America is complex and complicated, and I am afraid for him, in part, because of that reality. But that fear, which has always been a part of our relationship, has been amplified since losing Omie. I wake up shaking, in tears after having nightmares about Jason dying. The thought of losing him will hit me at random points in the day, and I’ll get anxious to the point where it hurts to breathe. I went through this same thing after we lost Nugget, but I still wasn’t prepared for it this time around and it knocks me off my feet every time. I can honestly say that I have found so much inner strength this past year, but even so, I really don’t know if I could survive losing Jason too.
And now I’m afraid for our next pregnancy. I’m mostly afraid that we’ll lose another child, but I’m also afraid of being afraid. I know that sounds silly but I am saddened by the thought of a pregnancy filled with constant anxiety and fear, robbed of joy by previous losses. I don’t want to not announce our next pregnancy, just because something could go wrong. I don’t want to keep my parents in the dark, just to spare them the heartbreak if our baby dies. I don’t want to not have a baby shower, just because I’m afraid that I might come home to a nursery empty-handed. I want to call our families at the first positive pregnancy test, I want to take bump photos from the moment I find out, I want to start the baby registry right after our first doctor’s appointment, and I want to share our child’s existence with the world as soon as we can. I want our children, all of our children, to be KNOWN and LOVED and PRAYED FOR – no matter whether they are with us for only 10 weeks in the womb or 90 years on earth.
I’m coping with all this fear by letting myself feel it, because I know from experience that bottling it up won’t solve a thing. Somebody once told me that you have to let yourself experience your emotions, and that stuck with me, so I do just that. I let myself be afraid. I pray about my fear and find courage through prayer. And then I do my best to identify the source or cause of the fear and address it in whatever way I’m able. I’m afraid of not being able to have living children, so I talk myself through the tangible things we’re doing to ensure a safe pregnancy and healthy baby next time, and I remind myself of our great fortune in the fertility department. I’m afraid of losing Jason, so I check in on him throughout the day and make sure he’s safe. I’m afraid of an anxiety-filled rainbow pregnancy, so I read other loss mommas’ blogs on pregnancy after loss and I remind myself that I now have a community to support me through this. I don’t have to do this alone, and my warrior moms will be there to lift me up and get me through the ups and downs of another pregnancy.
None of this means that I’m okay or not afraid. I’m not okay, and I’m definitely still afraid. I’m not always successful at managing my fears, sometimes they overwhelm me, and that’s okay too. I have bad days where I like to stay at home and eat too much chocolate and cry, and I’m entitled to those days. Sometimes nothing can shake my fear other than a good night’s sleep. Grief isn’t linear, and I’m not perfect. But I’m doing my best, and that’s enough.